The Los Angeles Lakers will retire Shaquille O'Neal's jersey before their game against the Dallas Mavericks tips off on Tuesday night, which means a career retrospective is in order.
While the Lakers scrap for the final playoff seed in the Western Conference, the organization will raise Shaq's No. 34 jersey to the rafters in a final, singular moment of triumph for a man who is perhaps one of the three most recognizable basketball players of all time.
After deciding that the West Coast—fame, fortune, fun and history—was more appealing than staying with the Orlando Magic past his rookie contract, Shaq was welcomed to Los Angeles with open arms.
The team hadn't reached the NBA Finals since 1991. After decades of George Mikan, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and Magic Johnson, Los Angeles was suddenly mediocre.
O'Neal jumped to L.A. in 1996, bringing the Lakers three championships over the course of the next eight seasons. Not only did he become one of the most dominant forces in NBA history, but his dynamic personality made him an easy person to like.
The time frame I want to revisit and discuss were his years in Los Angeles: Shaq's era.