The Miami Heat announced Tuesday that they will retire the number 32 in honor of Shaquille O’Neal sometime during the 2016-2017 season. O’Neal played for the Heat from 2004-2008, aiding a young Dwyane Wade in capturing Miami’s first NBA Championship in 2006. O’Neal was never the star, franchise player the same way that Wade and legends Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway had been for the Heat, and his arrival and departure came by way of falling out with team executives — the first being with the Lakers and Phil Jackson. However, given the history of the Heat’s jersey retirement practices, retiring O’Neal’s jersey would make better sense than their previous choices.
During his final farewell tour, the Heat retired the number 23 of Michael Jordan before his final game in Miami in 2003. Jordan had been a perpetual thorn in Miami’s side during the 90s, posting a 30-8 regular season record and 10-1 record in the playoffs against the Heat. In 2009 Miami Dolphins legend Dan Marino had his number 13 raised to the rafters of the American Airlines Arena. Though not officially retired, the display just adds to the oddity that is the Heat’s retirement protocol. There may be questions of whether O’Neal deserves his number to be retired, but at least he played for the team – and in the NBA.