It’s all over now. However, at the height of his powers, Shaquille O’Neal was arguably the most dominant player in NBA history. A magnetic, entertaining, immovable, and completely unstoppable force.
But, as his career moved forward, Shaq’s relationships with the teams who employed him began to sour. The Los Angeles Lakers being the most glaring example.
“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 … O’Neal enjoyed the the bulk of the success during his 19-year NBA career in the eight seasons he spent in Los Angeles from 1996-2004, winning his lone regular season MVP award in 1999-00 and three consecutive Finals MVPs from 2000-02. All seven other Lakers players to have their number retired are members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but the team may not wait for the requisite five-year grace period before O’Neal enters the Hall as a surefire, first ballot inductee before hosting the jersey ceremony.
“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.” The Lakers will not purposefully hold off on O’Neal’s jersey retirement until Kobe Bryant’s jersey is retired, either.
“At this point in time I’d guess there’s a really good chance that Kobe will still be playing in five years, and by that time Shaq will be elected to the HOF and we will have retired his jersey,” Black wrote. O’Neal retires with career averages of 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.3 blocks per game on 58.2 percent shooting, but his numbers jumped to 27 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.5 blocks in 514 regular season games played in L.A.
Even though they supposedly buried the hatchet in 2006, I personally can’t wait to see and hear what Kobe Bryant will have to say during Shaquille O’Neal’s Laker jersey retirement ceremony.