Shaq became the ninth player in Los Angeles Lakers history to have his jersey retired.
Signed by the team in the summer of 1996, Shaq spent eight seasons with the purple and gold, winning three NBA championships while reaching four finals. Shaq won his fourth championship after being traded to the Miami Heat, but it was with the Lakers that he had his best years.
His jersey retirement ceremony, which took place during halftime of Tuesday’s Dallas Mavericks-Los Angeles Lakers game, was excellent. A video montage showed many clips of Shaq’s entertaining personality and funny moments. After that, there was an extremely touching and personal recorded video message from Kobe Bryant. Kobe made it clear in his speech that there no longer is any animosity between him and Shaq.
Phil Jackson, who coached Shaq for five seasons, spoke next. He regaled the crowd with funny stories about the bubbly big man. Jeanie Buss then took the microphone and honored Shaq on behalf of the team and the fans. She said the two words that best describe Shaq are “Laker” and “champion.”
Shaq’s jersey was then unveiled next to eight other former Laker greats — or nine if you include the jersey for announcer Chick Hearn. Shaq proceeded to speak, giving recognition to Kobe for helping him form the best 1-2 punch in history, Jackson for coaching the team to championships, Jerry West for signing him, late Lakers owner Jerry Buss, and many of the team’s prominent fans, including Jack Nicholson.
One of the messages Shaq stressed is that his once contentious relationship with Bryant has been mended.
“Kobe, we had a million great times and a thousand bad times,” said Shaq. “But as a doctor, I know that a million outweighs a thousand, and the positive always outweighs the negative.
“You are my teammate and my brother, and I’m proud to call you both.”
Several notable athletes sent their congratulations to Shaq over Twitter:
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 3, 2013
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) April 3, 2013
Congrats to my man @shaq on getting his number retired with the Lakers! Well deserved and one of the best to ever play the game!
— Reggie Bush (@ReggieBush) April 3, 2013
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) April 3, 2013
Shaq also posted a video to YouTube that was extremely similar in content to the speech he delivered at Staples Center:
Congratulations to the Big Fella. He stole the show Tuesday, just like he usually does.
Below are some more photos from the ceremony:
— Lee Zeidman (@LeeZeidman) April 3, 2013
— L.A. LIVE (@LALIVE) April 3, 2013
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 3, 2013