Best Lakers opening night moment No. 2: Shaq Dominates in his Lakers debut
One of the most anticipated opening nights in franchise history was when the biggest start in the NBA arrived in Los Angeles in 1996. The Lakers miraculously signed Shaquille O’Neal in his prime and we’re instantly launched into the title conversation.
They opened the season against the Phoenix Suns who had A.C. Green starting at center who was no match for Shaq. O’Neal ended the game with 23 points, 14 rebounds, and had a plus-minus of +27.
He was a monster on the defensive end as well with two blocks and 10 defensive rebounds, helping hold the Suns to 82 points.
This game proved to foreshadow for what Lakers fans would see Shaq produce for the next 8 seasons in the purple and gold. Just like this opening night he was arguably the most dominant force in Lakers history and helped carry them to 3 championships from 2000-2003.
Some footnotes from this opening game were that two other Lakers rookies suited up for the first time in Los Angeles as well. Derek Fisher had an impressive first game of his career and put up 12 points in 20 minutes of action, and a guy named Kobe, you might’ve heard of him, did not get one second on the court and was buried on the bench by head coach Del Harris.