by Cass Waters
(we found the whole ceremony for you to enjoy)
The Lakers retired Shaq’s No. 34 jersey on April 2, 2013. A ceremony was held in his honor with many of his friends and former team members. Some of his former team members, from the Lakers, had many stories to tell of the big man himself.
“Congratulations to you, the most gifted physical specimen I’ve ever seen play this game with size and agility,” Bryant said to uproarious applause. As loud as the building got for Bryant’s message, the din reached a fever pitch when the microphone was handed over to Phil Jackson. Jackson focused on the fun that team had with O’Neal at the helm, recalling the “indelible images” of O’Neal showing up to practice late wearing nothing but sneakers and another time when O’Neal showed the Sacramento Kings what a “full moon really looked like” when the Lakers left Arco Arena following Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference finals.
O’Neal said the testy relationship with Bryant may have actually helped L.A. achieve the success it did, rather than hamper its chances.
“The task was to win championships. We won three out of four,” O’Neal said. “If we would have tried to be all buddy, buddy, it might have went differently.”
O’Neal was asked if he had any regrets from his 19-year career that featured four championships, three Finals MVP awards, one regular season MVP, two scoring titles, Rookie of the Year and 15 All-Star appearances. He has two: “I missed 200 games. I missed 5,000 free throws. Other than that, I had fun. I did it my way. It was a great experience.”
“My father told me it could happen and I believed him,” O’Neal said. “That’s why I developed a style of play that he designed for me to play. He knew I was going to be bigger and stronger than everybody. That’s why I developed that style. It was a style that he developed for me. I could have gone with the finesse and tried to shoot jumpers, but he was like, ‘Play this way, play this way, it will pay off for you in the long run.’ And, I guess it has.”
So what do you think about Shaq retiring? Tell us in the comments below what you remember about the Big Man, whether it be in his games, movies, whatever you remember him in, let us know.