When Shaquille O’Neal Was Dropped From McDonald's Iconic Michael Jordan-Larry Bird Commercial

Get to know the reason behind Shaquille O’Neal's removal from McDonald's iconic Michael Jordan-Larry Bird commercial.

Oindrila Chowdhury
Written by Oindrila Chowdhury , Writer
Published on Apr 02, 2024 | 09:49 PM IST | 63.6K
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The reasoning behind Shaquille O'Neal's absence from the classic McDonald's commercial featuring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.

McDonald's did have their sight set on Shaquille O'Neal for their legendary 1993 commercial that featured Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. But why Shaq wasn't the chosen one? What went wrong? The year 1993 was significant. Shaquille O'Neal, a rookie phenom for the Orlando Magic was turning heads. On the other hand, Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls were the two-time defending champions.

For the Super Bowl ad, McDonald's craved a commercial strategy that revolved around the "epic clash" of the biggest names in the NBA. Shaq, with his talent and charisma, seemed like a perfect fit alongside Jordan. But there was one major concern. It was O'Neil's free throws. Despite his dominance in the NBA as a rookie, he was inconsistent at the free-throw line. This was a crucial detail for the commercial's concept.

McDonald's Commercial Featuring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird 

The iconic commercial revolved around a friendly competition between Jordan and Bird and showed sinking long-distance shots into strategically placed McDonald's cups. Thus, Shaquille 'Neil's weakness in free throws posed a problem.


Once aired, the Jordan-Bird commercial became an instant classic. Their back-and-forth trick shots with flawless accuracy put the ad in pop culture history. Shaquille O'Neil's missing shots could have taken away from the commercial's core message which is McDonald's association with champions and peak performance.

Legendary Commercials Featuring Shaquille O’Neal

Los Angeles Lakers veteran, Shaquille O'Neal's iconic commercials are:

Pepsi with Michael J. Fox (1993):  A young Shaq teams up with a seasoned Michael J. Fox in a hilarious commercial where the former struggles to open a Pepsi can due to his size.

Shaq Attaq Reebok Commercial (1993): This features a rookie Shaquille alongside NBA legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell.

Taco Bell "Tastes So Good" (1997): Shaq's larger-than-life personality shines in this series of commercials where he gets increasingly frustrated by people comparing everyday objects to the deliciousness of Taco Bell.

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