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For the First Time Ever, an Orlando Magic Player’s Number Will Be Retired

The Magic announced yesterday that they will retire Shaqille O’Neal’s No. 32 during a postgame ceremony on Feb. 13.

Shaq thus adds another distinction to his lengthy list of credits: He will be the first Magic player to have his number retired by the team. (The Magic, like all NBA teams, have also retired No. 6 for Bill Russell.)

The Magic debuted in 1989 and are currently in the midst of their 35th season. Has any other Big Four pro team gone that long before retiring their first number? If anyone wants to take that on, it would be a fun research project.

Shaq played his first four seasons in Orlando. His number has also been retired by the Lakers (No. 34) and the Heat (No. 32), so the Magic will be the third team to raise his number to the rafters. That will tie the NBA record currently shared by Wilt Chamberlain (No. 13, by the Warriors, 76ers, and Lakers) and Pete Maravich (No. 44 by the Hawks, and No. 7 by the Pelicans and Jazz).

You can see the full list of NBA retired numbers here.

Update: Reader/commenter PK notes that two NBA teams do not have any retired numbers (aside from Bill Russell):

  • The Clippers began their franchise history as the Buffalo Braves in 1970. They then became the San Diego Clippers in 1978 and the Los Angeles Clippers in 1984. Throughout that stretch, they’ve never retired a number.
  • The Raptors debuted in 1995 and have yet to retire a number.
Comments (30)

    If you count the time as the Washington Senators (starting in 1961), the Texas Rangers also retired Nolan Ryan’s number in their 35th year of existence in 1996, the first number they had ever retired

    It looks like the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t retire a number until 1980, for Stan Mikita, so that would be over 50 years.

    The Phillies (est. 1883) waited nearly 80 years before retiring a number…#36 (Robin Roberts) in ’62.

    None of the big four teams retired numbers until Lou Gehrig, if I’m not mistaken. So, the whole 1883-onward part is a tiny bit misleading.

    Good one, I didn’t look at baseball. The Cubs went 102 years before retiring 14 for Ernie Banks.

    I’m kind of shocked the Raptors haven’t retired Vince Carter’s number. If there is one player I think of when you mention the Raptors it’s Vince Carter.

    I think how he left pretty much got rid of any chance of that. Honestly would rather retire 7 for Lowry

    The Marlins currently have no retired numbers in their 30th year of existence, but they did have #5 retired temporarily. From Wikipedia:

    “Also noteworthy is the fact the Marlins have no retired numbers, with the exception of Jackie Robinson’s universally retired #42 (although #5 was originally retired for inaugural Marlins President Carl Barger, who collapsed and died at the 1992 winter meetings. The Marlins retired the number 5 in honor of Barger’s favorite player, Joe DiMaggio, but the team would issue the number into circulation for the first time when they moved to the city of Miami in 2012 and instead honored Barger with a plaque at their new park).”

    ***UNPOPULAR OPINION ALERT*** Retiring numbers is the worst idea in sports. The Celtics have 24 retired numbers and they’ll have to deal with the consequences of their terrible decision. Sometime in the distant future players will only have the option of choosing 3-digit numbers. Stop retiring numbers. As a matter of fact, reverse the decision and make those numbers available for use again. Thank you. (Steps off soap box)

    That’s actually a fairly popular opinion around here. I’m for taking certain numbers out of circulation & only reissuing them for special reasons

    The worst idea in sports is retiring a number, then letting every single player in the league wear that number once or twice a year.

    You have a very valid point. I like how USC has limited it to just Heisman winners, regardless how great other players have been. CFB already has limited number options, where on the same team many defensive and offensive players are wearing the same numbers.

    Yeah, this has been a long discussed topic on here with most people pointing out it not being the best idea and/or it being significantly overused.
    I am not 100% against it, but think far too many players get their numbers retired. I’d support taking them out of general circulation but still used on certain occasions. And actual retirement of numbers reserved for a scant few players who are so linked to their team’s history AND their level of performance was so high that it is appropriate. Shaq on the Magic is not one of them, perhaps yes if he played his whole career there.
    I think of guys like Dan Mario, Mickey Mantle, Tom Brady, Larry Bird, MJ, Bobby Orr, etc.
    If they aren’t pantheon level great, don’t retire the number, just induct them into your team HoF or RoH.

    I’m no math whiz, but I’m pretty sure that 24 numbers close to a quarter of all the numbers under 100! It has to stop somewhere.

    Shaq was alrwady in the RoH of the Magic. He said he was expecting a number retirement when he was present at that moment but it did not happen. I am happy for him, he is a goodhearted man. As a fan I am not that much into number retiring but to the athletes it means a lot.

    Maybe a little off-scope, but is it just as jarring for anyone else to see a picture of Shaq with hair?

    Must admit he wore a very low box cut with a sharp partition but i remember he had some sort of box cut at one point. I really like that hair style. Not practical for most sports but a great look for basketball and field and track.

    There’s a little context missing here that helps explain this story. The first is that the Magic as a matter of policy have never retired a number, EXCEPT #6 — which was not originally for Bill Russell. It was retired to honor the fans and the longtime understanding was that was the only number they would ever retire, at least until they won a championship maybe. It’s not so much about them not having any worthy candidates.

    The reason it appears they’ve reversed course on this is because Shaq mentioned it in one of his rap lyrics that he’s had two teams retire his jersey but he’s “still waiting on a call from the Orlando Magic.” So, essentially, it seems he bullied them into doing it. Which is pretty hilarious, actually.

    Crazy the Magic are just retiring Shaq’s number. I actually associate Shaq with the Magic more than the Lakers or Heat

    And inanimate jobjects, too — both the Celtics and Sixers have retired microphones; one for radio’s Johnny Most and the other for PA announcer Dave Zinkoff.

    Honor the number but do not retire it, which is fundamentally what baseball has done for Jackie Robinson.

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