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Lakers plan to retire Shaquille O'Neal's jersey number

Shaquille O'Neal At an undetermined time, the Lakers plan to raise Shaquille O'Neal's No. 34 jersey to the Staples Center rafters, making him the eighth Lakers player to have his number retired.

"There is no timetable and there is no plan other than yes, we definitely plan at some point to retire his jersey," Lakers spokesman John Black said. 

The news, as first reported by ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin, coincides with O'Neal's announcement Wednesday that he will retire after a 19-year career that spanned four NBA championships, three Finals most-valuable-player awards, one regular-season MVP award and 15 All-Star appearances. He is in fifth place on the league's all-time scoring list (28,596 points) and has cemented his legacy as one of the NBA's dominant centers.

"We did it," O'Neal said on the social-media site Tout, a video-messaging service. "Nineteen years, baby. I want to thank you very much, that's why I'm telling you."

Although O'Neal's career spanned six teams, including the Orlando Magic, Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, most of his professional success happened during his eight-year tenure with the Lakers. After signing with the Lakers as a free agent in 1996 on a seven-year, $120-million deal, O'Neal breathed life into an organization that had foundered since the Showtime Era, and he paved the way to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. O'Neal averaged 27 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.5 blocks in 514 regular-season games with the Lakers, a jump from his career averages of 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.3 blocks.

The relationship with O'Neal and the Lakers suffered at times. His ongoing drama with Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson, questions about his work ethic and injury history and a $30-million-a-year demand to Buss prompted him to trade Shaq in 2004 to the Miami Heat. Despite frequent digs at the organization, Bryant and Jackson, the relationship has at least warmed. At the encouragement of former Celtics center Bill Russell, O'Neal and Bryant made peace in 2006. O'Neal accepted the Lakers' invitation to attend Jerry West's statue unveiling during All-Star weekend in February. And Buss released a statement Wednesday thanking O'Neal for his contributions to the Lakers. 

Whenever O'Neal's jersey retirement takes place, he will join Wilt Chamberlain (No. 13), Elgin Baylor (No. 22), Gail Goodrich (No. 25), Earvin "Magic" Johnson (No. 32), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (No. 33), James Worthy (No. 42) and Jerry West (No. 44). All seven of those players are members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and Black said the team may not wait for the five-year waiting period before O'Neal likely will be inducted. He also said the Lakers won't intentionally wait to retire Bryant's jersey before O'Neal, especially considering Bryant has a three-year, $83.5-million contract running through the 2013-14 season. 

"We don't really have a policy on it," Black said. "But as you can see from the people whose jerseys have been retired, they're all in the Hall of Fame. We have what we think is a high standard. If we're going to retire somebody's jersey, it's going to be of someone deserving."

-- Mark Medina

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Photo: Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal has some fun on the court during a game against the Houston Rockets in 2002. O'Neal announced his retirement Wednesday. Credit: Lori Shepler/Los Angeles Times/March 3, 2002

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Give credit to Shaq-fool for staying Fat, Lazy, Unmotivated, and Recovering on company time!

Let's Purge our team of this Imbecile Cretin!!!!

No we are not forgetting the championships but we do need to get rid of the Awful Omens he left behind! We need an Exorcism to expunge him from our team Forever!!!

Sorry...couldn't resist baiting the haters. :)

It's been said a billion times, but I'll reiterate: Had they been mature enough to work through their issues and conflicts, God only knows how many rings they would have won together. Oh well.

And I have no beef with his jersey being retired, too. He deserves it. All hail The Big ICON!

As well they should.

Let's go Ls...and make a comeback next season!!!!!

Yea i have no problem with Shaq jersey being retired also he deserve it inspite of his funny ways at times.Infact i have me a Shaq jersey which i had retired when he left the Lakers.It will be cool to dust of the old 34 for the big diesel.

Go Lakers!


He deserves it. Retire his jersey ASAP. Anything else is just sour grapes and is unbecoming of what should be a classy organization. Lakers have taken the high road and I'm proud of them for that.

Guys, As John Black made it clear, it's not as if they're going to retire Shaq's jersey tomorrow. He just simply acknowledged the Lakers plan to do that because we asked since Shaq officially retired.

Shaq's definitely a great player worthy of being in the HOF and having his number retired. BUT attributing the three championship to him without the infamous PJackson "asterisk" is just wrong. That omission implies that without him the team wouldn't have won.

If the Lakers didn't pursue him they wouldn't have given up Divac to Charlotte. JWest would have found a way to get Bryant. The roster with PJackson coaching could have won it all. European Divac would have probably been a better fit in Tex Winter's triangle. Consider how the Sac Kings gave the Lakers all they can handle with Divac and if not for the Grace of the Basketball Gods with the long rebound to Horry could have beaten LA. Consider also the time Shaq was out with an injury and Kobe, in his youth, went on a tear.

If an older Kobe could win it twice with Gasol, a gimpy Bynum, aged DFish, LO, Ariza/Artest and fillers, Primetime Kobe could easily win with a stronger Divac, healthy Campbell, Van Exel/ Harper/ Shaw, EJones, Fox, Horry/Grant. Plus Dr. Buss would have saved so much money and aggravation.

So here's to raining on your parade, Shaq. The Lakers made you bigger than you can appreciate. LA would have won without you.

p ang

Shaq was one of the greatest to play the game.
And we as Lakers fans should be thankful for his playing time in LA.
But obviously he had some bad attitudes toward Jerry Buss and Kobe Bryant.

But after all he deserves his jersey to be retired.

@MM - I don't like this whole register thing. I am sure you haven't heard too many complaints because you have to register to complain. Whatever... How do you get your name back?

PA - If you want to play "what if", where would Shaq have gone? Are you saying he wouldn't have won several rings with Iverson or Reggie? What about Sacremento? Do you think we would have beaten them if we had Divac and they had Shaq? Let me think, hmmmmmm... NO!!!!!!

Sure he was The Big Missed Potential, he was also the most dominant player ever and still is a funny, entertaining person. Remember him breaking backboards? They had to change the rules to make the game fair for the guys who had to play against him. He always had his best games with the whole world watching - in the finals... for all the glory...

I am glad that the Lakers will retire his jersey. It is the right thing to do.

Mike Brown - Well, he was off my radar. He couldn't do it with LJ and he got fired from his last job. I really wanted Sloan. I hope Mitch at least called him. I didn't want Shaw. I like him a lot and hope he gets a chance as a head coach, but I thought we needed a shake-up. I was not crazy about the Adelman choice, but would have been OK with it. Larry Brown won a ring, but he is a loose cannon and I could imagine him and Kobe arguing a lot and it not lasting. After watching the video of Mike's press conference, I am very happy with the choice. He seems to have a vision of where we should go and I like it. We don't have the athleticism to run the triangle anymore. That is why PJ retired. He said in one interview that he didn’t want to coach Kobe on the downside of his career. It is unfair to put it on Kobe. Let’s face it, Kobe is old, Lamar is old, D-Fish is old, Ron is old, Pau is old, Blake is old, Barnes is old (not to mention Luke, Theo and Joe)… we are an old team. Who do we have that is young that even plays? Drew and Shannon… It is not fair to put it on Kobe. Phil knows that to run the triangle you need young athletic guys to sustain the movement for four quarters. He was not about to change his ways and didn’t want to go through an overhaul of the team, so he retired. We were old the last time he retired as well. We had Patton, Malone, etc. A bunch of guys retired after that season. We will see what he says if a young team asks him to come back. If Miami looses, I am sure Pat will make the call. In any case, I am happy with Mike’s decision to tailor the offense to the personnel. Dallas is old and they are doing OK. I like the focus that he has on defense. I have always felt that defense wins championships. I can remember a few defensive stands with D-Fish, Kobe, Shaq, Fox, and Horry where they would simply deny a pass to the best player in the waning seconds. I would love to see that kind of defensive intensity return to the team.

Even after the smoke has cleared and I am no longer thinking we should fire everyone, I think it would be pretty short-sighted not to bring in a young, athletic point guard and a small forward that can hit a three. I have the feeling that Mike is thinking he doesn’t want to shake things up too much personnel-wise so that he can gain the trust of the team. He may want to wait until mid-season and see how it works out before doing anything drastic. The only way to get a really good point guard would be to trade Pau or Lamar and some other valuable asset. After watching the Lakers get swept and humiliated on national TV and witnessing Pau attempt his stupid little weenie outside shots instead of powering to the basket, I was pretty inclined to trade him. Maybe Mike can get through to him. I guess he deserves a chance to try. When SA had the twin tower offense working for them, they were very hard to beat.

I think that what went wrong had a lot to do with major changes in personnel, rumors about infidelity, a coach with one foot out the door, behind the scenes gossip, etc. We were a good team (won 17 out of 18 games at one point), but we lost our team unity. We lost our chemistry. We lost our Mojo. We had it the year before when we beat Boston. Hopefully, Mike can lead the charge in bringing it back.

It is an extra long off-season this year but…

I am a Lakerholic.

p ang,

I know it's trendy to hate on Shaq nowadays. But come on. Kobe was not yet ready to lead. And Shaq was the best basketball player on the planet. I'm a Divac fan. But you don't trade Divac for Shaq in his prime and come out OK.
And they would have had to trade more than one of those other guys you have as Kobe's teammates to GET Kobe in the first place (Divac was a one for one deal beacuse he was a proven starting center).

Long term Kobe has had a better career. But in those days? Shaq Daddy was the man. There were exactly zero guys in the league who could guard him. And come playoff time, when he turned it up? Forget about it.

I love Kobe's game. But those were Shaq's teams back then.

Shaq was a Big Cog in the championship wheel, so big it sometimes tipped the balance.

If you saw the press conference the day West announced Shaq, you could tell by the look on JW's face that he had worked a miracle he knew would change the course of events. 3 peats aren't miracles but they suffice in pro sports. The bigger miracle would have been keeping your head ala Kareem when it came time to give the team to Kobe.

Absolutely, hang 34 from the rafters. Keep the Big Circus in town.

They should build a statue right away for Shaq and invite Kareem to the unveiling ceremony - LoL

In ESPN's Mike & Mike this morning, debates regarding whether Hakeem should be placed 4th all time greatest center and Shaq as 5th. The sad thing was all they talked about was their offensive skills, scoring, etc.... Lest we forget that Hakeem is the all time leaders in blocks (of course records were not kept until the late 60s but nevertheless). Furthermore, Olajuwon is probably #1 in steals in the center position.



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