Shaquille O’Neal expresses surprise at Magic jersey retirement: ‘I never expected this day to come’

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During his illustrious NBA career, Shaquille O’Neal accomplished a multitude of feats.

The Orlando Magic selected O’Neal as the top pick in the NBA Draft of 1992.

During his time in Orlando, Shaquille O’Neal had a remarkable four-season tenure. It was in this period that he achieved his first All-Star team selection, which would be followed by an astounding total of 15 selections throughout his NBA career. Notably, O’Neal also earned his first All-NBA team recognition while playing for the Magic.

On Tuesday, Shaquille O’Neal solidified his place in the history books of the Orlando Magic as his No. 32 jersey was raised to the rafters. The retirement of O’Neal’s jersey marks a significant milestone, as he becomes the first player in the franchise’s history to receive this honor.

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Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey was raised in a special ceremony at the Kia Center in Orlando, Florida. The event took place on February 13, 2024, after a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was a momentous occasion, as O’Neal’s contributions to the game of basketball were recognized and celebrated. The jersey retirement ceremony was a fitting tribute to one of the greatest players in NBA history.

Shaquille O’Neal bid farewell to Orlando after the 1995-96 season and went on to achieve remarkable success with other NBA teams. However, it came as a pleasant surprise to him when he discovered that the Magic had chosen to retire his jersey.

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During the ceremony after Orlando’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, O’Neal emphasized the importance of remembering one’s roots with the following quote: “You know, there’s an old saying: Never forget where you come from.”

“I started my professional career in this place, and it has been my home for most of my life. The fans have always been welcoming, and the people here have shown incredible hospitality. I never could have imagined that this day would come.”

In celebration of its 35th season, the Magic organization made the decision to pay tribute to O’Neal.

Penny Hardaway, Dennis Scott, and Nick Anderson, who were O’Neal’s former teammates on the Magic, were present at the jersey retirement ceremony.

Magic CEO Alex Martins expressed his belief that there is no one more deserving than Shaq to be the first in a particular endeavor. He emphasized that Shaq was instrumental in putting the Orlando Magic on the map and that his successful career began in Orlando.

Shaquille O’Neal had his No. 32 jersey retired by the Orlando Magic in a postgame ceremony at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on February 13, 2024 (Mike Watters/USA Today Sports).

O’Neal has achieved the incredible honor of having his jersey hung in the rafters of not one, but three NBA arenas. The Los Angeles Lakers retired his No. 34 jersey, while the Miami Heat followed suit by retiring his No. 32 jersey.

O’Neal has achieved a remarkable feat by becoming the third player in NBA history to have his jersey retired by three different teams. He now stands alongside the legendary Pete Maravich and Wilt Chamberlain on this exclusive list. It’s worth noting that only eleven former NBA players have had the honor of having their jerseys retired by two franchises.

According to O’Neal, when you play for different franchises, it is a clear indication that you are well-liked by the fans, the people, and the organization. They not only enjoy watching you play but also appreciate your dedication and hard work.

Shaquille O’Neal addressed the audience during the ceremony where his jersey was retired. The event took place after a game between the Orlando Magic and the Oklahoma City Thunder on February 13, 2024, at the Kia Center in Orlando, Florida.

O’Neal expressed deep admiration for his time in Orlando. Having experienced four jersey retirements, including one from LSU, O’Neal made it clear that this particular one held special significance for him.

O’Neal expressed his honest opinion, stating that this particular one is likely to be the most impressive.

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During his time with the Magic, O’Neal showcased his incredible basketball skills in a total of 295 regular-season games. It is worth noting that he currently holds the sixth position on the team’s all-time scoring list. What’s even more impressive is that four out of the five players ranked above him have played more than double the number of games for Orlando. Additionally, O’Neal’s dominance on the court is evident as he holds the third position in terms of all-time rebounds for the Magic.

“This is the place where everything began,” O’Neal reminisced.

The information in this report was contributed by The Associated Press.

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