Shaquille O’Neal’s iconic No. 32 is going up to the rafters in Miami—the Heat will honor the big fella during halftime of tonight’s game against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.

O’Neal famously arrived in South Beach in an 18-wheeler, and helped lead the Heat to the franchise’s first NBA championship in 2006.

Shaq will become the third Heat player to get such an honor, joining Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway:

“We had a vision to be a championship team,” (Dwyane) Wade told The Associated Press on Wednesday, “but it wasn’t for real for real until Big Fella came and pulled up on that truck.”

 

A grand celebration was had on that day in July 2004, the franchise’s first of three NBA championships followed two years later, and the Heat will give O’Neal their version of an ultimate thank-you on Thursday night when they raise his No. 32 banner to the rafters. […] “I said ‘I promise I’m going to bring a championship here,'” O’Neal said. “And we did.”

 

Fittingly, the Heat will fete O’Neal at halftime of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers — who have also retired his number. […] “He changed the direction of our team,” Heat President Pat Riley said. “He brought an absolute legitimacy to our franchise. And when we won the championship I think it sort of took us over the top. He deserves to be honored by having his number hanging from the rafters. It’s not just out of respect. It’s because of what he did for us.”

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