Miami Heat Retire Shaq’s Number In Emotional Ceremony
Shaquille O'Neal is larger than life. He's one of the biggest sports figures in the history in the world, and the Miami Heat told him thank you in a big way too.
O'Neal won an NBA Championship with the Heat back in 2006, helping Dwyane Wade earn his first ring. O'Neal averaged 19.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in Miami, but more than that, he brought a champions' mentality to the franchise that rubbed off on all the other players.
Without a doubt, Shaq is one of the most dominant big men to ever play the game. He is 7th all time in career scoring, 15th in rebounding and first in many people's hearts. Simply put, he's a legend, and it's hard not to like the "Big Diesel." The mountain of a man from Louisiana always seemed to have a smile on his face and a joke on the tip of his tongue.
The highlight of the ceremony was when the Heat rolled out Shaq's mother in a small-scale replica of the 18-wheeler O'Neal rode to his debut as a member of the Heat. Even he didn't expect Mama to get in on the act.
When it finally came time for Shaq to take over the mic, the first thing he did was recognize other Heat greats, starting with his teammate Udonis Haslem.
He told Haslem he was the definition of what it meant to be a Heat player, then he pulled up Alonzo Mourning and thanked him for helping him become the Hall of Famer he was. Then, he thanked everyone in the Heat organization, including Pat Riley, and he said he wished Wade was there to celebrate the ceremony with him.
Of course, he cracked a few jokes. When he looked back at the '06 season, he described it in classic, hilarious Shaq fashion.
"Our team was so crazy, I remember coming in and saying, 'Pat, the guys are partying on the beach and you have us practicing at ten. Can you please move it back to twelve?'" Shaq said with a huge smile. Then he added very seriously, "Pat, a lot of people think we have problems, but we don't. I love you and respect you."
In a career with so many highs and plenty of recognition, it would be easy to shrug off accolades as they continue to stack up. It was clear the ceremony hit him in his massive heart, and he handled the honor with grace.