Revisited: LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal almost featured in one of the most iconic non-NBA basketball games of all time, 19 years ago on this day

LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal meet up before a game [Source: ESPN]
LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal meet up before a game [Source: ESPN]
Siddhant Gupta

Nineteen years ago, NBA superstars LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal were almost part of one of the greatest basketball games ever played. Referring to The Blackout Game at Rucker Park, Jamal Crawford offered his retelling of the events on that day.

LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal have been dominant players in the NBA throughout their careers. However, August 15, 2003, saw a different situation emerge for both players.

The two played on Jay-Z's team at the famous Rucker Park. A young LeBron James had the chance to pair up with one of the best players in the world in O'Neal.

Jamal Crawford was the first to be contacted by Jay Z to play for his team. He led the team to the championship game against Fat Joe. Crawford recalled the talent at their disposal:

"We had our team on the day of the game. Myself, Eddy, LeBron and Kenyon Martin."

With names such as LeBron James and Kenyon Martin joining the team, the hype behind the event grew. Jamal Crawford said:

"Jay had said he had rolled past earlier - 10,000 people there and the game didn't start for another 5-6 hours. This was going to be the game of the summer anywhere in the US."

While Jay-Z's team had a star-studded roster, Fat Joe's team was equally stacked. Stephon Marbury, Al Harrington and Zac Randolph led Fat Joe's team.

Crawford also cleared rumors about other stars who were going to play.

Although the opposing team had Chris Webber and Carmelo Anthony, Crawford mentioned that his team had Shaquille O'Neal and Tracy McGrady.

While LeBron James was an expected presence on Jay-Z's team, Shaquille O'Neal was a surprise. O'Neal mentioned playing because Fat Joe's team had Yao Ming.

Given Shaquille O'Neal's standing rivalry with the Houston Rockets legend at the time, Big Diesel had to show up to the game.

19 YEARS AGO TODAY1 of the greatest basketball games ever almost happened: The Blackout Game at Rucker Park. Feat. LeBron, AI, Shaq, Melo, Yao, Starbury, Webber, Bassy, Bibby, Amare, J-Crossover & more!

Shaquille O'Neal never had the chance to shut out Yao Ming at Rucker Park.

After the blackout hit, the game was postponed. Due to prior engagements, Jay Z and Beyonce would also be unavailable for the next game.

In an unfortunate turn of events, fans were denied a chance to see one of the greatest lineups in basketball history in action. However, Rucker Park remains a historical place for basketball fans worldwide.


Iconic performances at Rucker Park

As mentioned earlier, Rucker Park is considered by many the mecca of basketball. The playground has featured legends, such as Julius Erving and Jamal Crawford, to modern-day superstars, such as Kevin Durant.

'Froback Friday! The great Julius Erving at Rucker Park. One of the great photos of all-time.

Several performances come to mind when considering the tournaments that take place at The Rucker. The most recent notable performance is Kevin Durant's 66-point showing that brought the house down.

When Kevin Durant shut down Rucker Park. (2011)

During the 2011 NBA lockout, Durant took to the historic Harlem court. Much like Durant, Kobe Bryant also had an iconic display on the court in 2002.

Coming off his three-peat run with the LA Lakers, Bryant showed no mercy to the defenders, embarrassing the opposition.

OTD (2002) A month after completing a 3-peat with the Lakers, Kobe Bryant put on a show at Rucker Park!

As of late, NBA players have become commonplace at tournaments. LeBron James played at the Drew League. Kyle Kuzma and Dejounte Murray played in the Pro-Am leagues.

42 and 16.Light work on a Saturday for @KingJames at the @DrewLeague ๐Ÿ‘‘

Edited by Chad Marriott


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