"...The Los Angeles Lakers plan to honor their former self-proclaimed Superman, Shaquille O'Neal, by raising his No. 34 jersey to the rafters. "We don't have any specific timetable on this, but you can be assured we will retire Shaq's jersey," said Lakers spokesman John Black in an email on Wednesday... "We don't have a specific policy on [dictating when jersey retirements happen]," Black wrote. "As you know, players have to wait five years to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but we could possibly do a jersey retirement ceremony for Shaq prior to that."
The Lakers will not purposefully hold off on O'Neal's jersey retirement until Kobe Bryant's jersey is retired, either. "At this point in time I'd guess there's a really good chance that Kobe will still be playing in five years, and by that time Shaq will be elected to the HOF and we will have retired his jersey," Black wrote..."
While the "yes or no" question on Shaq's jersey retirement flares up periodically-- Andy touched on it this afternoon-- that O'Neal's 34 will at some point decorate the arena shouldn't come as a surprise. A) he was dominant, at points almost absurdly so, during his time in L.A. (even if you think he should have been absurdly dominant-ier) and B) the team has said as much periodically over the last few seasons.
Now the debate becomes about timing.
Personally, I think requiring the Naismith folks to come calling first is fine, but not necessary. If there was any doubt of his HOF status it would be different, but everyone knows Shaq will be inducted in his first year of eligibility. Will the Lakers really make Kobe sit five years once he retires (assuming he ever does)? From there, I see no need to have Shaq wait for Kobe to go first. The event need not be a grand referendum on the Shaq/Kobe era, or which player has been better to or more valuable for the organization (the answer, in total, is clearly Kobe). In reality, appearing to drag their feet will only keep alive questions the Lakers would probably just as soon see die.
Shaq obviously deserves the honor. There's no rush, but the Lakers should find a reasonable timetable, and get the retirement ceremony on the calendar.