It was announced today (via Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register) that the Los Angeles Lakers will retire Shaquille O’Neal’s #34 jersey this coming April.
Lakers will retire @shaq No. 34 jersey on April 2 vs. Mavericks and Jamaal Wilkes’ No. 52 jersey on Dec. 28 vs. Trail Blazers.
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) August 30, 2012
Not incredibly surprising news here; in fact it’s almost a no-brainer. Shaq will go down as one of the best big men to ever play the game and was hands down the most dominant inside force in the league during his time with the Lakers.
The 15-time All-Star won four NBA titles (three with LA, one with Miami) and collected three NBA Finals MVP awards. He racked up 28,596 points (23.7 points per game), as well as 13,099 rebounds (10.9 per game) and 2,732 blocks (2.3 per game). He’s sixth all-time in scoring, 13th all-time in rebounding and seventh all-time in blocks.
It’s hard not to think about what could have been with the Shaq-Kobe relationship that didn’t work out and left Shaq with a one-way ticket out of L.A. They were the most fearsome duo in the league when they played together and Kobe wasn’t even in his prime yet. They likely could have put together a dynasty that rivaled MJ’s Bulls in the ’90s, in my opinion.
Either way, Shaq’s a future first ballot Hall of Famer who rightly deserves his spot up in the rafters at the Staples Center, so good on the Lakers for not waiting around to give it to him.