Time for the Orlando Magic to retire Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey


This week the Miami Heat became the second team to honor Shaquille O’Neal by retiring and hanging his jersey in their building. It may be time for the Orlando Magic to join them.

As a rookie, Shaquille O’Neal came into the NBA and made his mark.

A transcendent talent, Shaquille O’Neal would help lead a young Orlando Magic franchise to a NBA Finals appearance and put Orlando on the map. Magic fans and NBA fans alike know the tremendous impact O’Neal had on the Magic and the NBA during his four-year tenure in Orlando.

So why has Orlando not shown their appreciation by retiring the jersey of arguably the franchise’s All-Time greatest player?

Some have justified Orlando not retiring O’Neal’s jersey because, unlike his stops with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, he did not win a championship. While that is a valid point and O’Neal only spent four years in Orlando, his impact was high enough at that time to warrant more appreciation than what he has gotten.

Being one of the all-time greats of the game O’Neal is deserving of having his jersey retired in Orlando. Great players like Steve Nash, Charles Barkley, even Tim Hardaway to name a few, have their jersey retired without winning a championship for their team.

So why not Shaquille O’Neal in Orlando? Objectively, O’Neal has done more than enough and left a lasting impact on the franchise to receive this honor.

Many have pointed to the messy ending to O’Neal’s career in Orlando as a reason not to retire his jersey.

The Magic were a franchise on the rise with plenty of talent. Orlando itself was a blossoming city to which O’Neal had in the palm of his hand. His sudden departure surely took everyone by surprise and left many bitter when all was said and done.

But this breakup was not O’Neal’s fault.

O’Neal knew what his value was. When the Magic did not offer to reciprocate that value in his compensation, O’Neal felt so disrespected he moved on to a suitor who understood what he was worth.

The same thing is going on today. The Magic franchise still has not figured out how much Shaquille O’Neal meant to them. On Thursday’s TNT broadcast from Miami for O’Neal’s jersey retirement, Reggie Miller made these comments:

"“My only problem is that the one team that should be retiring Shaq’s jersey, the Orlando Magic are slacking horribly and to me that’s why the Orlando Magic are cursed they don’t understand how to appreciate and treat their star players”"

The Orlando Magic are suffering from bad karma — or at least continue to make the same mistakes with their top players.

Since O’Neal left, Orlando has had some rough times. The franchise looked to be on the rise again with a new big man in Dwight Howard, a player very similar to O’Neal on and off the court.

Just like O’Neal, Dwight Howard’s departure from the Magic was very messy and landed him in a Lakers uniform. This seems to have started yet another string of bad karma for Orlando, but that is another story. Not to mention the messy ending to the Tracy McGrady era.

The Magic took a step forward two years ago by inducting O’Neal into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame.

O’Neal has since made comments stating his regret for leaving Orlando. It will remain one of the great “what if” stories in NBA history, considering his pairing with Anfernee Hardaway.

It seems as if time is beginning to mend the relationship between O’Neal and the Magic.

If Orlando can pay the proper respect to one of the league’s most dominant players, who just happened to put the team and city in the national spotlight, all will be right with the world. That is completely in the Magic’s court to make that decision.

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After seeing the Miami Heat retire O’Neal’s jersey after winning them a championship, it is Orlando’s turn. It is time to retire No. 32.