ORLANDO, Fla. — Almost 25 years after his selection with the first pick in the 1992 NBA Draft helped put them on the national map, the Orlando Magic will officially get around to honoring Shaquille O’Neal.
The team announced Thursday that O’Neal will be inducted March 27 as the third member of the Magic Hall of Fame located inside the Amway Center. The ceremony will take place before the Magic’s game against the Detroit Pistons.
The Magic averaged fewer than 24 victories in their first three years of existence before winning the draft lottery in which O’Neal, a center who left LSU after his junior season, was clearly the grand prize. Three years later, he was a large reason why the Magic had the best record in the Eastern Conference and reached the NBA Finals. They have gone back there just once in the 20 years since.
"The Orlando Magic are honored to recognize those who have made significant contributions to our history," Magic CEO Alex Martins said in a statement. "Shaq made a tremendous impact on our franchise during his time with us and we are thrilled to recognize him as our third inductee into the Magic Hall of Fame. He carries on a great legacy of those who made the greatest contribution to the rich history of the Orlando Magic."
O’Neal’s 27.2-point scoring average over his four seasons in Orlando is second only to the 28.1-point average of Tracy McGrady in Magic history. He ranks second to Dwight Howard, whose time with them was twice as long as O’Neal’s, in rebounds and blocked shots.
O’Neal will join franchise co-founder Pat Williams and former teammate Nick Anderson, the first player ever drafted by the Magic, in the hall. Both Williams and Anderson were inducted in April 2014.