The Orlando Magic announced Thursday night they will retire Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey No. 32, making him the first player in the franchise’s history to have his number retired.
O’Neal learned the news during TNTs Inside the NBA broadcast Thursday night, when Magic CEO Alex Martins called into the show.
“I hear youve been waiting for a phone call from us and the wait is over,” Martins said. “On behalf of the DeVos family and myself and all of us here at the Orlando Magic, we want to congratulate you as we make you the first jersey number retired in the history of the Orlando Magic.”
Martins said we had some great times at the beginning of O’Neal’s career. “You took us all the way to the NBA Finals and its finally time to put that number up in the rafters, he said.
O’Neal teared up as he received congratulations from co-hosts Ernie Johnson Jr., Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley and confetti dropped.
The NBA Hall of Famer was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1992, becoming Rookie of the Year, and spent his first four seasons with the Magic before becoming a free agent and signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. He went on to play for the Miami Heat, the Phoenix Suns, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics before retiring in 2011.
He helped lead the Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995, though they didn’t take home the championship. O’Neal went on to win three championships with the Lakers and another with the Heat.
“When someone asks who was the first player to officially put the Orlando Magic on the map, the answer is simple — Shaquille ONeal,” Martins said in a statement. “He took this franchise to new heights, both on and off the court, and his legacy is still felt within our organization today. On behalf of the DeVos family, we are excited to honor Shaquille by raising #32 into the rafters of the Kia Center, where it will remain forever.”
“Through his dominating play, larger-than-life personality, and generous contributions to The City Beautiful, Shaquille ONeal had a transformational impact on this team and this town, said Magic Chairman Dan DeVos. Our family and the entire franchise couldnt be more pleased for Shaquille to receive this well-deserved honor, further cementing his enduring legacy here in Orlando as we collectively look back on his tremendous accomplishments in a Magic uniform.”
O’Neal’s number will be officially retired during a postgame ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 13.
TMX contributed to this article.