After Shaquille O’Neal broke down Twitter this afternoon with his retirement announcement much speculation ran rampant concerning his place in history, particularly with the Lakers. There’s no doubt he had a legendary career in Los Angeles, but the way he departed and his decision to join bitter rivals the Boston Celtics for what turned out to be the final year of his career didn’t sit well with many Laker fans.
However, in a move that shows great class from the Lakers organization, they have already announced they will eventually retire O’Neal’s iconic number 34 jersey in the rafters of the Staples Center. According to ESPN Los Angeles’ Dave McMenamin, who received an email from Lakers spokesman John Black, “We don’t have any specific timetable on this, but you can be assured we will retire Shaq’s jersey.”
There is no question the majority of O’Neal’s success came in a Los Angeles uniform, and his accomplishments as a member of the Lakers are impossible to deny. O’Neal won three consecutive NBA championships with Los Angeles, including NBA Finals MVP in each of those victories. He also won regular season MVP during the 2000 season, in what was one of the most dominant seasons for any player in league history.
With O’Neal’s 34 soon to hang in the rafters above the Staples Center faithful, it will join Magic Johnson’s 32 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 33, making a trio of Laker legends.