Shaquille O’Neal began his 19-year NBA career as a member of the Orlando Magic, but bolted for the Lakers in free agency after only four seasons.
Still, his impact on the expansion franchise, which had then been in existence for just three seasons, was immeasurable. And for that reason, he will become the third member to be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.
From the official release:
Because of his massive contributions to the franchise from 1992-96, O’Neal will be inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame at a private ceremony to be held on March 27 at the Amway Center. O’Neal, who turned 43 years old on March 6, will also be honored in front of the fans during the Magic’s home game against the Detroit Pistons that night.
“The Orlando Magic are honored to recognize those who have made significant contributions to our history,’’ Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “Shaq made a tremendous impact on our franchise during his time with us and we are thrilled to recognize him as our third inductee into the Magic Hall of Fame. He carries on a great legacy of those who made the greatest contribution to the rich history of the Orlando Magic.’’ …
Inductees are selected based on their overall contributions both on and off the court, their years of service, their impact in the community and the general character of the individual.
Just about all of O’Neal’s greatest career achievements came after he had already left Orlando — the four championships, three Finals MVP trophies and one league MVP in the 2000 season.
But his arrival really was the sole reason that the Magic were vaulted into the national spotlight, so it’s nice of the franchise to set aside the fact that he left in free agency so early in his career, and give him an honor that he truly deserves.
It’ll be interesting to see if Orlando is feeling similarly generous one day where Dwight Howard is concerned.