Pat Riley says that trading for Shaquille O’Neal is the biggest move in Miami Heat franchise history.
I think we can debate that — drafting Dwyane Wade in 2003 would top my list, and signing LeBron would be ahead of Shaq, too — but no doubt bringing in Shaq in a trade with the Lakers (that sent Lamar Odom and others West) was huge. The 2006 NBA championship banner doesn’t hang in Miami without him.
Which is why on Dec. 22, the Heat will retire Shaq’s No. 32.
As they should. This is fitting. He is only the third Heat player to have his number retired, along with Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway. The Heat also have retired the number of Michael Jordan for reasons nobody quite gets, and they have the No. 13 of Dan Marino also hanging in the rafters.
Shaq only played three-and-a-half seasons in Miami but is the franchise leader in field goal percentage (.596), is third in points per game average (19.6), is sixth in blocks (384), is ninth in double-doubles (84), and is 11th in total rebounds (1,856).
The ceremony, which will involve Riley and others, will take place when another of Shaq’s teams — the Los Angeles Lakers — are in town.