Orlando Magic Host Epic Jersey Retirement For Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O'Neal, Magic, NBA
Feb 13, 2024; Orlando, Florida, USA; Shaquille O'Neal during a post game ceremony where the Orlando Magic retired his #32 jersey at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic are one of the youngest franchises in the NBA, as they are in their 35th season of existence. Despite their short lifespan compared to other franchises around the league, they have had some all-time greats don their jersey over the years.

Arguably the best to ever wear a Magic uniform is Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal owns several franchise firsts in Orlando as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft. He was the team’s first All-Star, first Rookie of the Year and first All-NBA selection.

While he is definitely among the best players to ever do it for the Magic, how tenure with the franchise ended on a sour note. He left as a free agent in 1996, joining the Los Angeles Lakers on what was a record-setting deal at the time, agreeing to a seven-year, $120 million contract.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Shaquille O’Neal & Orlando Magic Updates

Prior to his leaving, the Magic experienced incredible success on the court. They finished .500 or better in all four of his seasons with the franchise, a stark improvement from the 70-176 record they had in the first three seasons of inception before he was drafted.

On Tuesday night, O’Neal experienced another first with the Magic. His No. 32 jersey was raised to the rafters, becoming the first number that has been retired by the franchise. In their 35th anniversary season, they felt the time was now for such an honor.

“There’s no one more deserving to be the first than Shaq,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “Shaq put the Orlando Magic on the map. And the foundation of his Hall of Fame career started right here in Orlando.”

It was a huge night in Orlando, as the Magic were playing their first primetime home game in a long time as well. They were hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder, who picked up 127-113 victory.

Despite the loss, this is a night that will live on for a long time. O’Neal never thought this day would come, as he only spent four seasons with the franchise before leaving. But, it was a well-deserved honor, as he truly did put the franchise on the map, as Martins said.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Shaquille O’Neal & Orlando Magic Updates

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

Having your jersey retired by a franchise is the highest honor a player can receive. For O’Neal, the Magic are the third to do so. The Lakers retired his No. 34 and the Miami Heat retired his No. 32.

He is only the third player in NBA history to have his jersey number retired by three different franchises. Wilt Chamberlain and Pete Maravich are the other two players. Kobe Bryant has two numbers, 8 and 24, retired by the Lakes. 11 players have their jerseys retired by two teams that they played for, while Michael Jordan’s No. 23 was retired by the Heat and Bill Russell’s No. 6 has been retired around the entire NBA.

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