Throughout Wednesday, tributes to Shaquille O’Neal have poured in from the likes of NBA commissioner David Stern after the center announced his retirement on Twitter.
The Los Angeles Lakers will honor O’Neal in the most visible way possible: by retiring his No. 34 jersey.
ESPNLA.com reports that a Lakers spokesperson has committed to retiring O’Neal’s jersey but does not yet have a timeline in mind.
“We don’t have any specific timetable on this, but you can be assured we will retire Shaq’s jersey,” said Lakers spokesman John Black in an email on Wednesday.
“We don’t have a specific policy on it,” Black wrote. “As you know, players have to wait five years to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but we could possibly do a jersey retirement ceremony for Shaq prior to that.”
O’Neal paired with Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to win three titles for the franchise. His time with the Lakers is generally regarded as the high point of his career, making the jersey retirement decision a no-brainer.
Earlier Wednesday, Lakers owner Jerry Buss recognized O’Neal for that accomplishment in a press release.
“Shaq had a long and amazing career,” Buss said. “A huge impact both on and off the court. His contributions were significant to the entire NBA, but we specifically appreciate what he did with and what he meant to the Lakers during his eight years with us. We have three championships that we wouldn’t have won without him, and we will forever be grateful for his significant contributions to those teams.”
It will be interesting to see which — if any — of the other teams that O’Neal played for will follow suit. Orlando, where he began his career, would seem to be a no-brainer. Despite the heartbreak of leaving the city for the Lakers, he was the face of the franchise and guided the Magic to the NBA Finals. Miami is another possibility. O’Neal teamed with guard Dwyane Wade to help the Heat win the 2006 title. His other stops — Phoenix, Cleveland and Boston — will probably pass.
The Lakers have only retired the jerseys of seven players to date. All seven have been selected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The full list:
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — No. 33
- Elgin Baylor — No. 22
- Wilt Chamberlain — No. 13
- Gail Goodrich — No. 25
- Magic Johnson — No. 32
- Jerry West — No. 44
- James Worthy — No. 42