As you have noticed, we have been working on the Top 50 of every North American Franchise.  This will eventually lead into a look at the retired numbers and franchise Hall of Fames, which brings us to the news that the Miami Heat will be retiring the number of former Center, Shaquille O’Neal at an undisclosed date next season.

O’Neal spent three and a half seasons with Miami where he helped the team win their first NBA Championship in 2006.  As a Heat, O’Neal would statistically have 19.6 Points and 9.1 Rebounds with a PER of 23.9.  He would also win two Shooting Percentage Titles and earn a pair of First Team All-NBA honors as a member of the Heat.

Shaq’s tenure with the Heat did not end well, as he forced a trade to the Phoenix Suns, but time heals and realistically Miami would not have won their first title without him. 

The retirement of O’Neal’s number marks the second time that he has had his jersey retired as the Los Angeles Lakers did so a couple of years ago.  This is the fourth number retired by the team following Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway and Michael Jordan, even though the latter never played with the team.

The Basketball Hall of Fame announced that the eligibility wait time was reduced, which made Shaquille O’Neal eligible for the Hall this year.  It is expected that he will enter the Hall of Fame immediately on his first try.

We here at would like to congratulate Shaquille O’Neal for his latest accolade.

Yes, again we know this process is a long one!

Those who visit us on a regular basis know that we are methodically adding the Top 50 Players for every North American Team (NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB) and after that the intent is to look at how each team honors their former players and executives by way of Rings of Honor, Franchise Halls of Fame and Retired Numbers.

As such, it is news to us that the Miami Heat have retired the #32 of Shaquille O’Neal, making him the third player in team history to earn such an honor.

When Shaq arrived in Miami, he was ushered in an 18 wheeler with “Shaq Diesel” written on the side of it.  For this ceremony he was presented by a miniature replica of that beast of a vehicle, though this time it was driven by his mother.

O’Neal was traded to Miami in 2004 after the Lakers controversially lost the Finals to the Detroit Pistons, a series that on paper that Los Angeles had no business to lose.  The stories of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant’s inability to get along are now NBA folklore, and one of them had to go.  It was Shaquille who would leave, though he would take his scoring and rebounding skills with him. 

It would be a good fit in Miami as he would now be paired with the young Shooting Guard, Dwyane Wade.  Together, in 2006 they would win the NBA Championship, the first in Miami Heat history.

In the three and a half seasons that Shaquille O’Neal spent in Miami he had a 23.9 PER and averaged 22.6 Points, 10.5 Points and 2.2 Blocks per Game.

O’Neal joins Alonzo Mourning (#33) and Tim Hardaway (#10).

Notably, this is the second NBA team to retire his number as the Los Angeles Lakers did the same last year. 

We here at would like to congratulate Shaquille O’Neal for yet another post career accolade. 

12. Tim Hardaway

Tim Hardaway was the catalyst of the famed Run TMC (with Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond) for the Golden State Warriors that took the NBA by storm in the early 90s.  Hardaway was a point guard who set the running style of the Warriors in motion.  When traded to Miami in 96, Hardaway teamed with Alonzo Mourning to make the Heat title contenders.  Hardaway was also a great perimeter shooter who opponents could not leave open and he became the undisputed master of the crossover dribble with his mad dashes to the basket.  A 5 time All-Star and 5 time All NBA performer, Hardaway definitely has the credentials statistically with over 15,000 points and 7,000 assists.  Best remembered for his ability to get to the hoop and then dish, Hardaway is one of the best pure point guards in league history and arguably the best at his position not in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

21. Glen Rice

Glen Rice just maybe the most effective outside shooter of the 90's. Reggie Miller got all the hype but Rice was actually a better scorer and was a 6 foot 7 shooting guard who was almost impossible to defend.  He was the star and leading reason the Michigan Wolverines that won the 1989 title and he set a record for scoring of 184 points in the tournament that still stands today.  Drafted number 4 overall by the Heat following the 89 season, Rice became the expansion team’s first bonafide star. 

50. Eddie Jones

A popular player and a stealing machine, Eddie Jones was a very good Shooting Guard who strung together solid seasons in the late 90’s for the Los Angeles Lakers and Charlotte Hornets. Jones was just adept at steals, but was also a dangerous threat from behind the arc. He would three times be named to the Second Team Defensive squad along with three All Star Games. We are sure many who were fans of Eddie Jones are chanting “Eddie” in their mind right now.