Shaquille O’Neal may have spent less than four seasons with the Miami Heat, but he was instrumental in bringing the franchise its first championship when he and a young Dwyane Wade made an astonishing comeback against the Mavs in the 2006 Finals.
Now, the organization is doing the right thing and retiring his jersey in a special ceremony on December 22. Fittingly, the Heat will be hosting Shaq’s former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, on that night.
Here’s more from the Heat’s official press release, via NBA.com:
The ceremony, which will be hosted by HEAT Television Play-By-Play Announcer, Eric Reid, will include a video presentation and the raising of the No. 32 retirement banner to the rafters of the Arena. O’Neal and HEAT President, Pat Riley, are also scheduled to address the fans. In addition, TV broadcast partner, FOX Sports Sun, will air the entire ceremony live on the local television broadcast. O’Neal will become the third HEAT player to have his jersey retired, joining HEAT greats Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway.
It should be noted that things haven’t always been copacetic with Shaq and Riley since the Big Diesel left the franchise. In his memoir, Shaq Uncut: My Story, he deflects blame for Stan Van Gundy’s dismissal in 2005 onto Riley and goes on to suggest that Riley’s grueling practice sessions were the culprit behind many of the players’ injury woes over the years. Nonetheless, it looks like each side will let bygones be bygones when the time comes to honor Shaq’s contributions to the organization.