Shaquille O’Neal is considered one of the most dominant centers the NBA has ever seen and he brought the Los Angeles Lakers three consecutive championships and four title appearances. For that O’Neal had his Lakers jersey No. 34 retired before a rousing ovation inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Many of the Lakers luminaries were in attendance to pay homage to the Goliath of a man, most importantly Phil Jackson, the former coach who came in and initiated a peace treaty between the warring factions that was O’Neal and Kobe Bryant and help them coexist long enough to produce a second Lakers dynasty in their history.
Not surprisingly, former teammate Bryant, who still plays for the Lakers today, chose not to attend Shaq’s coronation before Laker Nation at halftime. The two had an adversarial relationship, to say the least, and Bryant harbored great bitterness towards the mountainous man, probably because Shaq was chosen the most valuable player during all three of those championship seasons. Bryant complained to the Lakers front office that he had tired of being Shaq’s “sidekick” and helped engineer Shaq’s acrimonious departure to the Miami Heat in 2005.
Despite that, however, NBA stars and other celebrities took to Twitter to congratulate O’Neal for joining the likes of Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gail Goodrich and James Worthy with their jerseys permanently hanging from the rafters at Staples Center.