Thursday night, one of the best – and biggest – players in the history of the Miami Heat will get one of the biggest honors a sports team can give.
The franchise will retire the No. 32 in honor of legendary center Shaquille O’Neal before their game against the Los Angeles Lakers – the team they traded multiple players to get O’Neal from before the 2004-05 season.
Though O’Neal spent less than four of his 19 career NBA seasons with the team, he was the catalyst of the franchise as they brought home the 2006 NBA Championship – the first in team history.
O’Neal took more of a supporting role during that series, allowing Dwyane Wade to shine and earn Finals MVP honors. Still, the big man in the middle averaged a double double during the series, helping the Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks and earn O’Neal his fourth NBA title for his career.
O’Neal will become the third player in franchise history to be honored in such a way, joining Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning. The team also “retired” the number of Michael Jordon for his contributions to the league.