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Community Shootaround: Shaq vs. Big Three

If anyone is qualified to rate the most important transaction in Miami Heat history, it’s Pat Riley. As team president, Riley has overseen everything the franchise has done since he accepted the position in 1995.

Riley has been responsible for dozens of moves each season, some large and some small, but there were two that shook the foundation of the NBA. In 2004, with the Lakers coming off a loss in the NBA Finals and the feud between Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant simmering out of control, Riley made a bold offer to bring the big man to Miami. He sent Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and two draft picks to Los Angeles in exchange for the most dominant force in the game at the time.

Six years later, Riley again reached out to the NBA’s top player. After seven seasons in Cleveland and on the heels of a bitter playoff loss, LeBron James was concerned about his place in NBA history. With some help from Dwyane Wade, Riley recruited James and fellow free agent Chris Bosh to come to South Beach and form a Big Three that made four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and won two titles.

For the fanfare that surrounded Shaq and LeBron, neither stayed in Miami all that long. O’Neal helped the Heat win a title in 2006, but played just 40 games the following season and was traded to Phoenix in February of 2008. James and Bosh brought a rock-star aura to the Heat, who drew comparisons with the greatest teams in history, but LeBron decided to return to Cleveland with his two rings in 2014, leaving Miami to rebuild around Bosh and Wade.

That brings us to tonight’s question: Riley says the trade for O’Neal was the most important move the franchise ever made, ahead of LeBron and the formation of the Big Three. Do you agree? Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.

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9 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Shaq vs. Big Three

  1. alfredo garcia
    [email protected]

    yeah because contributed to the heat first title

  2. Surprisingly a Bucks Fan

    he made Miami relevant and helped wade become a bigger name

    • Agreed. If it weren’t for the first championship, the other 2 wouldn’t consider joining wade on the heat for a championship. He set the big 3 up.

  3. acehoops

    I agree because it made Wade a bigger name and Miami a place that can win which later attracted bosh and bron

  4. Shaq fan

    totally agreed

  5. Jeremy N

    This is a bit of a deep cut, but the most important transaction in Heat history wasn’t any trade or FA signing. It was in 2003, when Anthony Carter’s agent forgot to file his player option for the 03-04 season. That single mistake had a domino effect that lead to Shaq, and to a lesser extent the big 3 era as well. With the freed cap room the Heat were first able to offer Elton Brand a RFA contact (the clippers matched), then offer a similar RFA deal to Lamar Odom that the Clippers chose not to match. With Odom, the Heat became a playoff team for the first time in a few years (some rookie named Wade helped too)… the next season Odom was traded to the Lakers (with butler and grant) for some center they call Shaq. The rest is history. Without that paperwork error, there is no Shaq, Wade may not stay in Miami, and thus, no big 3 either. Hence, it truly is the most important transaction in Heat history.

    • You get an F… That wasn’t the question!

      Shaq vs Big 3


      • Jeremy N

        The point was neither happen without the Carter screw up… but thanks for the positive reinforcement.

  6. Grant Robinson

    Drafting Dwayne Wade was bigger than both moves in my opinion.

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