Sometimes lost in all the clowning, all the injuries of the last few years, people seemed to have forgotten what an unstoppable force of nature Shaquille O’Neal was on the court in his prime.
A lot of that prime was in Los Angeles, paired with Kobe Bryant. They could not have won those titles without each other. But at that point in time, Shaquille O’Neal was the best player on the planet. The Lakers won three titles and Shaq cemented his legacy along with Mikan, Wilt and Kareem as one of the great Lakers centers and players ever.
The Lakers need to retire his jersey, and they will, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.
“We don’t have any specific timetable on this, but you can be assured we will retire Shaq’s jersey,” said Lakers spokesman John Black in an email on Wednesday….
The Lakers will not purposefully hold off on O’Neal’s jersey retirement until Kobe Bryant’s jersey is retired, either.
“At this point in time I’d guess there’s a really good chance that Kobe will still be playing in five years, and by that time Shaq will be elected to the HOF and we will have retired his jersey,” Black wrote.
The Lakers have said quietly for years they would retire Shaq’s jersey, it’s not really a surprise. Some Lakers fans, bitter over how Shaq left (the staunch Kobe people) don’t want it to happen, but frankly those people are wrong. They’re Kobe fans, not Lakers fans. Lakers fans still have love for Shaq (he may have said hurtful things, but your parents still love you and you remember some of the things you said to them). The timing was always the question — after the bad breakup of the Kobe/Shaq era, would they wait to let Kobe go first?
Don’t be surprised if they do. But as Black notes, if Kobe keeps playing beyond his current deal with the Lakers, things may change.
Either way, Shaq’s name and number deserve to be up in Staples Center.