ORLANDO, Fla. - For the first time since their team's inaugural season in 1989, the Orlando Magic will be retiring the jersey number of one of their former players. NBA Hall of Fame inductee Shaquille O'Neal will have his #32 taken out of commission for good by the team he played with for four seasons.
The number retiring will take place on February 13th, after the Magic's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It will mark the team's 35th anniversary, as well as their first playing in the Kia Center, renamed from the Amway Center.
“When someone asks who was the first player to officially put the Orlando Magic on the map, the answer is simple – Shaquille O’Neal,” said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins. “He took this franchise to new heights, both on and off the court, and his legacy is still felt within our organization today. On behalf of the DeVos family, we are excited to honor Shaquille by raising No. 32 into the rafters of the Kia Center, where it will remain forever.”
The Magic will be the third team to retire O'Neal's number, following the Los Angeles Lakers in 2013 and Miami Heat in 2016.
O'Neal made his debut with the Magic in 1992, the same year they selected him first overall in the NBA Draft. He spent the summer under the mentorship of NBA legend Magic Johnson in Los Angeles, and then moved to Central Florida to begin his professional career. O'Neal settled upon the #32 jersey after his teammate, Terry Catledge, declined to let him have it.
O'Neal played for the Magic through the 1995-96 season, during which he was injured for much of the duration. That offseason he signed a seven-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, leaving Orlando behind. The Lakers were the team O'Neal spent the most time in his career playing for, and he would never rejoin the Magic for a second stint.
O'Neal earned Rookie of the Year is his debut campaign with the Magic, and went on to win the scoring title in his third year. In the 1994-95 season O'Neal led the Magic to the NBA Finals, but they ultimately lost to the Houston Rockets. On the Lakers, O'Neal would later earn three consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards.