Shaq honors Magic legend Nick Anderson with heartfelt endorsement

Basketball legend and NBA on TNT host Shaquille O’Neal is widely regarded as one of the best NBA centers the league has ever seen. While he is now known for his candid takes and hilarious moments as a host, Shaq’s legendary career has spanned across multiple teams including the Orlando Magic, who have now retired his iconic number.

In Shaq’s jersey retirement ceremony with the Orlando Magic, the superstar showed real love to his former teammate and the Magic’s very own Nick Anderson who happened to be moved by the gesture.

O’Neal’s selfless gesture at jersey retirement ceremony

Yesterday, the Orlando Magic decided to retire their first ever jersey number with Shaq’s iconic Magic number 32, which the player wore for the team. The ceremony was very emotional for the NBA legend as Orlando was the team where his NBA journey began.

Shaq’s iconic no.32 jersey was retired by the Magic via Associated Press

Drafted in 1993, Shaquille O’Neal established himself as one of the most dominant players the league has ever seen, attacking the basket with brute force and physicality. However, while Shaq dominated and had mesmerizing performances, other players were forced to make adjustments to their playstyle in order to facilitate Shaq’s dominance.

One of those players was Nick Anderson, another young player who had to switch the way he played for the better of the team. Along with Shaq and Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson kept up by being the fusion between the two stars. Anderson was effortlessly efficient on both ends of the floor, being the two-way player the team needed on more occasions than one.

Playing in over 692 games and starting in 564 in them, Anderson averaged a very modest 15.4 points for the team who went on one of the greatest runs the city of Orlando could ever dream of.

Expressing his gratefulness and adoration for Nick Anderson, Shaq selflessly shifted the attention towards Anderson, telling everyone the sacrifices Anderson made for Shaq to thrive. He said, “It’s a real honor to be the first Orlando Magic player to get their jersey retired, although I would’ve expected to be number two. You were the first superstar here in Orlando. I appreciate you for sacrificing for me. You could have [taken] the shot every time, but you threw it in [to low post]. I definitely want to come back here when your jersey gets retired.”

Anderson’s teary gesture of gratitude for Shaq’s recognition

Hearing Shaq’s kind words, Nick Anderson was moved to tears. The duo, along with Penny Hardaway will forever be etched in the history of the Orlando Magic for the massive runs they had in the league at that time.

As Nick Anderson once suggested, it was a dynasty that never got a chance to shine. Just as things were starting to heat up, Shaq saw a better opportunity to thrive and shocked the world with a move to play with Kobe Bryant at the Los Angeles Lakers.

Nick Anderson
Anderson was instrumental in the Magic’s success via Getty Images

Nick Anderson exclaimed recollected his days with the duo of Shaq and Penny Hardaway, comparing them to the ‘The Beatles.’ “Playing with those two guys was like travelling with the Beatles. It was just great being a part of that and then adding the pieces that they added, you get Horace Grant who had won championships and brought some veteran leadership right there and another guy in Brian Shaw with leadership,” he said.

Anderson also spoke very nostalgically on the former days saying, “You mix that young with the older guys and you get that great core, great mix of players. It was wonderful. It was a young team, no one expected us to do what we did, but we just went out and played. It was great times, you can’t forget those times.”

Nick Anderson
Nick Anderson has played the most games for the Magic via Getty Images

While the rising super team failed to achieve any grand success, they surely ignited a spark in the people that supported the team, leaving Anderson with no regrets for their lack of success. Without a doubt, Anderson enjoyed his time with the team. He added, “I had a great time and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.”

With Shaq’s jersey retirement ceremony complete, Nick Anderson’s might be up next as Shaq pushed for, and rightfully so. The former Magic star not only led the team in various categories but also served as a key member of the team when it did not achieve success, inspiring his teammates to strive for the badge.

Caleb Mathew

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Feel free to reach out to me at @calebmathewww on Instagram.


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