Shaquille O’Neal just found out he’s getting his own statue outside of Staples Center in Los Angeles. Now, he has more good news coming his way: No member of the Miami Heat will ever wear No. 32 again.
The Heat announced Tuesday they will be retiring O’Neal’s former No. 32:
Shaq spent only four seasons (2004-05 to 2007-08) with the Heat, his third of the six NBA teams for which he played. But those were some pretty special years. He averaged 19.6 points and 9.1 rebounds during that span, below the averages he had previously put up with the Lakers and Magic, but still dominant enough to help Miami win a whole bunch.
He and a young Dwyane Wade helped carry the Heat to their first championship back in 2006.
The Heat haven’t announced an official date for the retirement ceremony but have said they will do it at the start of the 2016-17 season.
“Shaquille O’Neal is one of the truly elite players in the history of the game and one of the greatest players to ever wear a Heat uniform,” Heat President Pat Riley said, via the Miami Herald. “He took us to another level as a basketball franchise while leading us to our first NBA championship. Retiring his number in the rafters, along with Heat greats Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway, is something we are very proud of.”
Of course, O’Neal’s honor is also (kind of) shared by Michael Jordan, who torched the Heat when he was with the Chicago Bulls. Jordan’s jersey was the first ever retired by the Heat. And all these years later, it’s still a really odd thing to have happened.