Shaquille O’Neal having his Los Angeles Lakers jersey number 34 retired was announced earlier this year in February, but now there is an official date for the ceremony. Mark your calendar, Lakers fans, during halftime of the Dallas Mavericks game on April 2nd, O’Neal’s Lakers jersey will be risen to the rafters.
Shaq will join the following players in Lakers franchise history to have his jersey retired: Wilt Chamberlain (13), Elgin Baylor (22), Gail Goodrich (25), Johnson (32), Abdul-Jabbar (33), James Worthy (42), Jerry West (44) and Jamaal Wilkes (52), who will actually have his jersey retired earlier in the season on December 28th in a game with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Shaquille O’Neal played eight seasons with the Lakers, beginning with the 1996-97 season through 2003-04. During this time period, Shaq averaged 27.0 points on 57.5% shooting from the field and 53.3% chucking from the charity stripe, 11.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.5 blocks, and 37.6 minutes in 514 total games. More importantly, he won three NBA championships (2000-2002) along with Kobe Bryant as his “sidekick,” as well as a trio of NBA Finals MVP awards for the same years. Throw in a regular season MVP (1999-2000) and you can understand why the franchise is retiring number 34.
Two things immediately come to mind after hearing the news of O’Neal having his number taken away from future active Lakers players. The first is that Dwight Howard is going to feel the pressure of having to be the next great Lakers big, especially on April 2nd with the NBA Playoffs looming. And the second, which number will the Lakers put to rest when Kobe has the jersey lifting honor bestowed on him, 8 or 24?
Congratulations to Shaq and I have to do this.. KAZAAM!!!