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Orlando Magic Totally Botch Shaq’s Retired Number Banner

The Magic retired Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 32 last night, which was notable on two levels: First, Shaq became the first Magic player to have his number retired. And second, the Magic really blew it when designing Shaq’s banner.

As you can see in the photo above, the Magic based the jersey design on their current home Association jersey — the number font, the NOB font, the NBA logo above the NOB, all of it. But that’s nothing like the jersey that Shaq wore when he played for the team back in the 1990s:

The banner botch is particularly puzzling because the design Shaq wore was so distinctive. Why wouldn’t the team want to showcase that chapter of its aesthetic history?

Even more puzzling, the Magic actually had a proper era-appropriate jersey displayed in a frame near the podium where Shaq was speaking during the ceremony, so everyone could see how the banner didn’t match what Shaq wore on the court. Check this out:

Weird, right? If you can put the right jersey in a frame, why use an era-inapproriate design for the banner?

Look, it’s pretty simple: If you’re basing the banner on a jersey, design it to correspond with what the player actually wore. (The only exception would be a team like the Celtics, whose retired number banners are not based on jersey designs.)

This isn’t the first time Shaq has been victimized by a problematic banner. In 2013, the Lakers retired his No. 34 but created a banner that showed his name and number on the front of the jersey, instead of the back (note the wishbone collar):

They eventually fixed that banner.




Comments (26)

    Yes I agree, if the banner is supposed to look like a jersey, I like it when the retired number is frozen in time to match the era.
    On the other hand, the Utah Jazz made their retired numbers all match the Jazz Note logo vibe, even though Jeff Hornacek never played with that logo on his uniform. I’d say there’s something to be said about a uniform look. Not my first choice but I get it.

    Yeah this Orlando Magic treatment is just inexcusably terrible! Trying to split the difference, it looks like neither and it looks bad.

    Are there any other retired numbers banners hanging? I know you said Shaq is the first number the team has retired, but is that the sole banner? I’m wondering if they have other banners in the same style and are doing this for consistency sake.

    I seem to recall when Citi Field new Shea opened, the Mets rendered their (then) retired numbers on the outfield wall using the current style, which featured block shadow. link

    Obviously neither Gil nor Casey nor Tom ever wore a jersey in that style. They have, of course, since changed it on the top of the ballpark so that every number is in the current (and classic) style.


    I like the idea of retiring a number (whether it be shown on a jersey or a circle or a banner) in the style of uniform which the retired player wore, not some stardard (although in the Mets case, I’d hate to see Piazza’s number retired in block-shadow, even if that would be more era-appropriate).

    If there are no other jerseys (banners) hanging from the rafters, there’s nothing to compare Shaq’s to — but I wonder if going forward, if they retire any other numbers, if they’ll do so in the same style as they have done here.

    Prior to Shaq’s jersey banner, Orlando only had two banners in their rafters for their Eastern Conference Championships. The banners feature era appropriate logos. Weird that Shaq’s jersey wasn’t era appropriate too.


    Shaq is the first player’s number retired, the magic, I believe have always had the number 6 retired and dedicated to the fans, and have since retired it a second time for Bill Russell, I haven’t paid much attention to The Fans banner over the years of it matches the 1989 style or current style uniform

    I’m curious about what the Penguins will be doing with Jaromir Jagr’s banner, and what they’ve done previously. Mario Lemieux’s 66 was the first number hung in the rafters at the Igloo, and they didn’t replicate a single jersey style, just using an inversion of the 80s-style waist stripes (black-white-Pittsburgh gold) between the name and number, and below the number, with the skating penguin and the Robopen framing his playing years at the time.

    A week after his comeback began, they formally retired the late Michel Briere’s 21, using a banner styled after the white jersey the Pens wore in his only season, 1969-70, with the blue block representing the shoulder yoke at the top, and a wide light blue stripe bordered by thin navy stripes below the number. The logos were just the skating penguin, without either the basic circle that had been on Mario’s banner or the full team-name roundel.

    Then, after Mario’s second retirement, a new banner was raised, this time designed in the then-current black uniform style, with the angled stripes radiating from the sides of the triangle of a centered-at-the-bottom skating penguin logo, with Vegas gold and white trim, and it’s that banner that, as far as I’m aware, is hanging in their current arena.

    So that brings us to Jagr. He did wear the diagonally-striped Vegas gold-trimmed black jersey in Pittsburgh, but only as a third jersey, in his final season there. He started in the traditional black-and-Pittsburgh gold skating penguin uni and won his two Cups in that look, but the vast majority of his time in Pittsburgh, including his captaincy, was in the Robopen era. So it’ll be interesting to see what the Pens do, and if they do anything with Mario’s banner to coordinate it.

    I would predict that Crosby and Malkin would get the Pittsburgh gold treatment when they get their numbers retired. The Pens have seemed to shy away from the Vegas gold/tan era, as currently the only Cup banner they have with the Vegas accents is the 2009 banner; the 2016 banner has Pittsburgh gold, which was worn on their home jerseys in that playoff year, even though Vegas gold was still their official color, and they even hoisted the Cup in their Vegas Edge jerseys in the clincher in San Jose.

    *in relation to* what they’ve done previously…

    I kept going so long, I forgot to circle back to proofread the top…

    So in 10 years if they retire a player who is playing now, and the team has new style uniforms as I’m sure they will, this logic will have the retired jersey banner in the style of the 2034 jersey, and not the jersey style of Shaq’s jersey banner.

    You’d think the one thing that matters when creating a retired number banner would be getting the look of the number right…

    I saw the Magic had their lame “6” retired jersey, for the fans, not Bill Russell, redone in the same style as the Shaq one, lol. And they don’t have a Bill Russell one, too.

    A-ha! OK, that answers my question from above. It looks like they’re going for consistency (rather than era-appropriate accuracy).

    So I wonder what happens when they get new uniforms? Their consistent retired jerseys will be based on an old uniform.

    Unless they change the banners to reflect the most “current” iteration.

    Which is why I don’t like the “consistency” approach — it’s fine to have all retired jerseys/numbers in the same style, but if that style changes, something’s gotta give. If you retire a number (jersey), I favor it being in the style that the player wore during his tenure with the team.

    What in the actual? – I loved, loved, loved those early to mid 90’s Magic Jerseys as I was a huge Penny Hardaway Fan in High School; even had a white and pin-stripe Penny Jersey I would rock to school any chance I had. As Paul states, the design was so distinctive!

    What a disappointment and missed opportunity by the Magic.

    I guess there are three options:
    1. the retired number banner in the style of the/a jersey they wore.
    2. the retired number banner in the style of the current uniform (requires new banners each time you change your uniform)
    3. the retired number banner not in a jersey style at all, just the name/number rendered in team colors.
    Given this is the first number they retired does that mean they went with option 2, or they just were winging it and that was what they came up with?
    I would say I don’t mind the discrepancies between the banner and framed jersey. Whether they were going with option 2 or simply winging it, it makes sense the framed jersey would be his actual jersey (since it is an actual jersey and not a banner) as opposed to matching what the banner is.
    I guess I am willing to give them a pass since this is their first go at it and we really don’t know what their protocol is based on a single jersey. That being said, I stick with my position that numbers should only be retired in extreme circumstances, and while Shaq is surely an all time great on the court and high profile figure off it, his tenure in Orlando was too short to warrant this, IMO.

    I don’t know if “botch” the word I’d use. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like it (partially because I prefer when retired jerseys use the style the player actual played in and partially because I have a HUGE soft spot for the mid-90s Magic uniforms), however “botch” to me implies a misinformed mistake, and I doubt that’s what this is (Semantics, I know). Rather, I’d bet the Magic are going with the current uni look because it’s more generic and if/when they retire more numbers they’ll all have a generic uniform look to them no matter what era the person played for the team.

    I agree that they achieved what they wanted to achieve. But to my mind, what they wanted to achieve was misguided — a botched approach. I stand by my wording.

    Fair enough Paul. Like I said, semantics. I think honestly my brain is just hardwired into the professional wrestling usage of the word.

    This is the same as Roberto Luongo for the Florida Panthers a few years ago. Podium and everything else had the right font and the banner they blew big time. What companies make these, and how do teams not have someone like “us” proofing them???
    I will volunteer to do this for any team out there!

    Maybe instead of using the jersey number font of any era, pick a neutral style. In Philadelphia, the Phillies and Sixers use a font that neither team has ever worn, which covers multiple uniform eras. The Flyers have kept a consistent number font since the late 1970s and chose a neutral orange. The Eagles are the only of our teams who leaned into the font issue, but they made every retired number in the current style, which looks nice and uniform but is historically inaccurate.

    The Cleveland Cavaliers, who have gone through multiple uniform styles with different colors and logos doesn’t try to make their retired jersey banners look like jerseys. They have the player’s name, his number and a small version of the logo used in his era. The font is a simple san serif font. For those who played in a wine/gold era the color is wine on a white background. For those in the orange/blue era it’s blue on a white background. Likewise with the division/conference championship banners.

    As a magic fan who was in attendance that evening, I audibly said what the hell is that? Everyone looked at me like I was crazy and I said that’s not the Jersey he wore. Funny enough it came out on my video. I think they botched it in this aspect: retiring the pinstripes and sharp edge numbers for Shaq and Penny would have allowed you to retire the Star-Spangled Jersey of Tracy McGrady. With everybody having the same design it’s going to look extremely weird having two number ones, whereas two distinctive jerseys would have created a difference

    The 6 fans jersey was taken down. It was not present the night of the jersey unveiling (good riddance). The design was changed through the years; first with the pinstripes and black loopy 6 that resembled Penny Hardaway’s 96 Olympic jersey 6. They switched it to the star jersey 6 that McGrady used. Then came the Dwight Howard rookie jersey with simple block numbering and they never updated it again. I hope it’s retired for good now that Shaq is up there

    The strangest thing is that throughout the whole building they had the 32 branded with the original font that they use in 92 for Shaquille. They gave out buttons, stickers, towels, t-shirts. So it was perplexing to see them use that new age font that sucks. I always felt that the old number font made it easier to see what number the player was, which is a gripe I have with the number fonts on current Day Jerseys. (Starting with the 03-04 Cavs with their rounded numbers which were smaller on the front as well)

    That Magic font was so iconic that the 94 Shaq Attack 2 shoe by Reebok sold only because it had that specific font on the back of the heel, making this jersey font selection even more inconceivable.

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