Shaquille O’Neal Found Out He’ll Become First Magic Player To Have Jersey Retired On Inside The NBA
In the early 1990s, the Orlando Magic experienced a seismic shift in their fortune when they drafted a young, dynamic center named Shaquille O’Neal. The towering presence of Shaq not only altered the trajectory of the Magic franchise but also left an enduring mark on the NBA.
In the 1992 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic held the first overall pick, and their choice would reshape the franchise. Enter Shaquille O’Neal, a force of nature with a combination of size, skill, and charisma rarely seen in the league.
Shaq wasted no time in making his presence felt. His rookie season in 1992-1993 showcased an immediate impact, with O’Neal averaging an impressive double-double and earning Rookie of the Year honors. Orlando Magic fans were treated to a glimpse of the extraordinary talent that had graced their team.
The Magic’s fortunes further soared when they secured another budding star, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, forming one of the most formidable duos in the league. The combination of O’Neal’s dominance in the paint and Hardaway’s playmaking prowess elevated the Magic to new heights.
The Shaq-Hardaway tandem propelled the Magic to their first playoff appearance in the 1993-1994 season. This marked the beginning of a series of postseason runs that would solidify the Magic as legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference.
In the 1994-1995 season, O’Neal led the Magic to the NBA Finals, a historic achievement for the young franchise. Although they fell short against the Houston Rockets, the Magic’s journey to the Finals underlined the transformative impact of Shaquille O’Neal.
Despite the success and adoration in Orlando, O’Neal’s free agency decision in 1996 led him to the Los Angeles Lakers. While Magic fans lamented his departure, Shaq’s legacy endured, and his impact on the franchise remains a crucial chapter in its history. During his time in Orlando, O’Neal averaged 27.2 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, however this wasn’t enough for the franchise to retire his jersey when the big man retired… until now.
The Orlando Magic are finally set to retire a player’s number for the first time ever. The team officially announced that Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 32 jersey will be retired on Tuesday, Feb. 13. The ceremony will take place at the Kia Center after the Magic’s matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“In celebration of our 35th anniversary this season, we will officially retire jersey #32 in honor of Shaquille O’Neal during a postgame ceremony on Tuesday, February 13. O’Neal becomes the first player in franchise history to have his number retired.”
In celebration of our 35th anniversary this season, we will officially retire jersey #32 in honor of Shaquille O’Neal during a postgame ceremony on Tuesday, February 13.
O’Neal becomes the first player in franchise history to have his number retired pic.twitter.com/i5zk1b6IR9
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) January 5, 2024
O’Neal got wind of the honor through social media, but it was during a segment on TNT before the Milwaukee Bucks and San Antonio Spurs game that he truly found out about the ceremony.
In a prerecorded video, Magic CEO Alex Martins congratulated O’Neal and shared the news of the honor. As confetti showered the TV set, O’Neal playfully reminisced about the time he mistakenly believed his number was being retired during a ring of honor event.