shaquille oneal becomes first player in history to have his jersey retired by the magic

Shaquille O’Neal becomes first player in history to have his jersey retired by the Magic

At long last, Shaquille O’Neal is going up into the rafters in Orlando.

O’Neal became the first player in Orlando Magic franchise history to have his jersey retired on Tuesday night. The Magic raised O’Neal’s No. 32 jersey into the rafters at the Kia Center following their 127-113 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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

O’Neal was selected by the Magic with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, which came ahead of what was just the franchise’s fourth season in existence. O’Neal was named Rookie of the Year that season, when he led the team to a then-best 41-41 record. By the time he left three seasons later, he had led the Magic to both an NBA Finals appearance and a franchise-record 60 wins in a single season.

O’Neal then left the Magic after the 1995-96 season for the Los Angeles Lakers, where he won three NBA titles. He later spent time with the Miami Heat, winning a fourth title, along with the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics before he retired in 2011. He is still sixth on the Magic’s all-time scoring list and third on their rebounds list. He averaged 27.2 points and 12.5 rebounds per game over his four seasons with the club, and was on one of just two teams in franchise history to make it to the NBA Finals.

Shaquille O’Neal, who got his NBA start with the Magic, is now just the third player in league history to have his jersey retired by three different teams. Shaquille O’Neal, who got his NBA start with the Magic, is now just the third player in league history to have his jersey retired by three different teams.

Shaquille O’Neal, who got his NBA start with the Magic, is now just the third player in league history to have his jersey retired by three different teams. (Manny Millan /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

His time with the Magic sparked what ended up being a Hall of Fame career for the 7-foot-1 center, who won four NBA titles and a league MVP award before he retired. O’Neal now works as an analyst on TNT — he was on site to call the game for the network on Tuesday — and he’s launched what is arguably just as impressive of a career in media as he had on the court.

“You know, there’s an old saying: never forget where you come from,” O’Neal said, via ESPN. “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, who also had his jersey retired by the Lakers and Miami Heat, is now one of just three players in league history to have his jersey retired by three different teams. Wilt Chamberlain and Pete Maravich are the other two. LSU, where O’Neal played in college, also retired his jersey.

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

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