Orlando Magic retires Shaquille O'Neal's jersey, its first great legend

The Florida franchise honored one of the best centers in NBA history.

Until now, there were only three NBA teams that have never retired the jersey of any of their legends: the Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic. Now, that list has been reduced to two. The Florida franchise honored one of its flagship players, Shaquille O'Neal, and the number 32 he wore for four seasons is already visible on the roof of the Kia Center.

While it is true that Magic fans did not enjoy that powerful center for a long time, Shaq managed to lift the franchise and achieve a series of milestones that were never seen in Orlando. For example, he was the first player in Magic history to be selected number one in the NBA Draft, the first Rookie of the Year and the first to be named to an All-Star team.

As he entered the Kia Center hardwood, the Magic welcomed their legend with a throne and his framed uniform, as well as a large tarp with O'Neal's jersey that slowly rose to the roof of the stadium. Such is the tribute that the franchise decided to change its image on social networks and put one with the number 32. Shaq responded with a speech that brought more than one tear to their eyes:

You know, there's an old saying: never forget where you come from. And my professional career began here. I have lived here almost all my life. The followers have been hospitable. The people have been very, very hospitable. Orlando will always have a special place in my heart.

Four seasons in which he elevated the Magic

On June 24, 1992, Shaquille O'Neal was selected by the Magic with the number one pick in the first round of the NBA Draft. His imposing presence, just over seven feet tall, caught the attention of experts, who immediately assured that the Florida franchise was right with its choice. It came from the Louisiana State University team.

In his first season with the Magic, O'Neal played in 81 regular season games, averaging 23.4 points and 13.9 rebounds. In that first period, he failed to help the franchise qualify for the playoffs, something he did achieve in his second season.

In this one, he played the same number of regular phase games as in the first season, improving his scoring record (29.3 points per game), although having a slight decline in rebounding (13.2). The Magic advanced to the playoffs, but lost in the first round.

 

The Magic managed to reach the NBA Finals in Shaq's third season in the Florida uniform. In the regular season, the center recorded 29.3 points and 11.4 rebounds in 79 games. They failed to lift the title, after running into some imperial Houston Rockets.

The 1995-96 season was O'Neal's last with the Magic and, in numerical terms, it was his worst (26.6 points and 11 rebounds in 54 games). Despite this, the Magic once again had a great campaign, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the Chicago Bulls.

After the conclusion of the 1995-96 season, he flew from Florida to California to don the Los Angeles Lakers uniform, a franchise with which he won three of the four Rings he has on his record.