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Shaquille O’Neal Makes History As Orlando Magic Retires His Jersey

Shaquille O’Neal’s historic NBA career began with the Orlando Magic, however he is most recognised for his stint with the Lakers. The No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft spent his first four seasons in Florida, and while his stay was limited, it was surely memorable. O’Neal made the All-Star Game in all four of his Magic seasons, destroyed numerous backboards, and, of course, led Orlando to the 1995 NBA Finals.

His stint with the Magic did not go well. A controversial Orlando Sentinel newspaper survey found that supporters were divided on whether or not to pay him as a 1996 free agent. He eventually joined the Lakers and won three of his four titles wearing purple and gold. He went on to win a fourth title as a member of the Miami Heat, and both of the teams he helped win championships retired his No. 32 jersey. He waited over a decade for his first team to do the same.

They eventually did it on Tuesday. After losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Orlando Magic retired their first number in team history. No. 32 will never be worn by a member or the Orlando Magic.

Highlighting the rarity of this event, it’s notable that three players have donned the No. 32 jersey in Orlando since O’Neal’s departure.  Jeremy Richardson, Justin Harper, and, most recently, C.J Watson all donned O’Neal’s number while playing for the Magic in 2016-17. But time heals all scars. And today, O’Neal is simply thrilled to have the start of his illustrious career recognised.

“You know, there’s an old saying: never forget where you come from,” he remarked. “And my professional career began here. I’ve been living here mostly all my life. The fans have been welcoming. The people have been very, very hospitable. I never thought this day would come.”

O’Neal is now the third player in NBA history to have his number retired by three different teams, not counting Bill Russell, whose No. 6 is recognised throughout the league. The first player to receive this honour was Wilt Chamberlain, whose number 13 is retired by the Lakers, Warriors, and 76ers. Pete Maravich is the second player to have three jerseys retired. His first team, the Atlanta Hawks, celebrated his number 44, while his second team, the Utah Jazz, retired his number 7. Technically, the Jazz were still in New Orleans during most of Maravich’s stay, therefore his No. 7 is also retired by the Pelicans.

Now, O’Neal becomes a part of that esteemed company, a fitting tribute to an NBA icon who excelled wherever he went. O’Neal secured championships with two teams and earned All-Star recognition four times. Now, he will forever be enshrined as a legend for three.

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Swastika Dubey
Swastika Dubey
Swastika's inclination towards sports, irrespective of the game, has often left her peers awestruck. She never misses a sporting event and devours every single piece of information pertaining to an athlete or their game. People who know her say that calling her a sports fanatic would be an understatement.

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