Shaquille O’Neal: Magic retire number 32 jersey in franchise first

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O’Neal is no stranger to having his number retired but he admits having it done by the Orlando Magic was “probably the most impressive”.

O’Neal was honoured by the Magic last night, his number 32 jersey hoisted to the rafters in a ceremony following their 127-113 defeat to Oklahoma City.

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It is the fourth time O’Neal has had a number retired – his efforts were also recognised by LSU as well as the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat – but it was a first for the Magic.

O’Neal said: “Truthfully speaking, this will probably be the most impressive one.

“You know, there’s an old saying: Never forget where you come from.

“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.”

O’Neal played 295 regular season games for Orlando and sits sixth on the team’s all-time scoring list.

He was joined at the lecturn by many of his former team-mates, including Penny Hardaway, Dennis Scott and Nick Anderson.

O’Neal said in his speech that he felt Anderson should’ve been the first to be honoured by the Magic, but CEO Alex Martins insisted they had got it right.

He said: “There’s no one more deserving to be the first than Shaq. 

“Shaq put the Orlando Magic on the map. And the foundation of his Hall of Fame career started right here in Orlando.”

O’Neal is just the third player to have their jersey retired by three different NBA franchises, joining Wilt Chamberlain and Pete Maravich.

“It means that every franchise you played for, they enjoyed you,” O’Neal said. “The fans enjoyed you. The people enjoyed you. They appreciated your hard work.”

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