Shaq Makes History As First Person To Have Number Retired By Orlando Magic


February 20, 2024

Shaq’s name now hangs in the rafters!

On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the Orlando Magic retired Shaquile O’Neal’s No. 32 — a first for the team and its first superstar. Many fans stayed for the postgame ceremony where they lifted the No. 32 jersey into the rafters, even after the Magic lost to Oklahoma City.

“You know, there’s an old saying: Never forget where you come from,” O’Neal said of the honor, according to the Associated Press. “And my professional career started here. I’ve been living here mostly all my life. The fans have been hospitable. The people have been very, very hospitable. I never thought this day would happen.”


O’Neal and Orlando share a lot of firsts: he was the team’s first number one overall draft pick. He was their first rookie of the year. O’Neal was the first player to make an All-Star team in a Magic uniform, and the first All-NBA selection. He was Orlando’s first big superstar and got the superstar treatment for the jersey retirement ceremony. 

O’Neal sat on a throne at center court while friends and teammates shared stories about his career beginnings in Orlando, including one about O’Neal arriving in the city known for Walt Disney World for the first time wearing a pair Mickey Mouse ears. A banner was hoisted as fireworks lit up the darkened arena roughly an hour after the game ended. Many of O’Neal’s former Orlando teammates were there Tuesday night, including Penny Hardaway, Dennis Scott and Nick Anderson. 

“There’s no one more deserving to be the first than Shaq,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “Shaq put the Orlando Magic on the map. And the foundation of his Hall of Fame career started right here in Orlando.”


The Orlando Magic drafted O’Neal in 1992. The Magic were 70-176 in their first three seasons, then O’Neal arrived and they went 41-41 in his rookie year. The next year, they went 50-32 with the team’s first ever playoff appearance, 57-25 with a trip to the NBA Finals in 1994-95, and finally 60-22 — still the franchise record for wins — in O’Neals fourth and final season with Orlando. 

O’Neal left Orlando after the 1995-96 season to join the Lakers, having played 295 regular-season games with the Magic. But he remains sixth on the team’s all-time scoring list and third all-time in rebounds for the Magic. 

The Magic celebrates its 35th anniversary season this year, the perfect time for another historic first: retiring O’Neal’s 32 jersey. O’Neal is the third player in NBA history to have his jersey retired by three different teams: his No. 34 was retired by the L.A. Lakers in 2013, and his No. 32 was retired by the Miami Heat in 2016. 


“It means that every franchise you played for, they enjoyed you. The fans enjoyed you. The people enjoyed you. They appreciated your hard work,” O’Neal said about his historic honor for a career that has been larger than life. However, Orlando will always be where it all began. “There’s no other place I would have wanted to start my career. Orlando will always have a special place in my heart.”

Cover photos: Shaq Makes History As First Person To Have Number Retired By Orlando Magic / Photo credit: NBA

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