Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal is set to become the first Orlando Magic player in NBA history to have their jersey retired by the franchise.
The news was announced live on Inside the NBA and the broadcast crew surprised O’Neal with a video call from Magic CEO Alex Martins.
“When someone asks who was the first player to officially put the Orlando Magic on the map, the answer is simple — Shaquille O’Neal,” Martins said. “He took this franchise to new heights, both on and off the court, and his legacy is still felt within our organization today. On behalf of the DeVos family, we are excited to honor Shaquille by raising No. 32 into the rafters of the Kia Center, where it will remain forever.”
Shaq was drafted out of LSU by the Magic as the first overall pick in the 1992 Draft.
In four seasons with Orlando, the big man earned Rookie of the Year honors (1993) and led the Magic to the franchise’s first playoff appearance (1994) and first NBA Finals appearance (1995).
“I would like to thank the DeVos family,” O’Neal said on the broadcast. “It was a great four years there. I just wanted to come in and make a name for myself.”
O’Neal becomes just the second player in NBA history to have his jersey retired by three different franchises since the Lakers retired his No. 34 jersey in April 2013, and the Miami Heat retired his No. 32 jersey in December 2016.
Wilt Chamberlain was the only other player to have three jerseys retired by three different organisations (Warriors, 76ers and Heat).
“You are one of the few men that we’ve ever seen in sports play a game and love the game the right way, create your own path and do it your way,” said Dennis Scott, O’Neal’s Magic teammate from 1992-96. “Now your number is retired in three different arenas. That’s something special.”