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Ball Don't Lie

Shaquille O’Neal’s retired Lakers jersey is backward, and it’s not supposed to be

Dan Devine
Ball Don't Lie

I'll be honest — I watched the Shaquille O'Neal jersey retirement from halftime of Tuesday's matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks on DVR delay after missing the start of the game to finish writing about Carmelo Anthony's 50-point game in Miami. So as I was rushing to catch up, I might not have been paying super-close attention to the trappings of the ceremony. Our old pal Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones was, though, and he noticed something odd — on the panel raised to the rafters of the Staples Center, it looks like Shaq's last name has been put on the front of the jersey the Lakers have worn since the 1999-2000 season, rather than on the back of it.

Take a look:

View photo

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Reversable jersey. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

That tell-tale notched collar appears on the front of the Lakers' familiar forum-blue-and-gold threads, just above the team's name; conversely, the back of the jerseys, where O'Neal's last name and No. 34 went, feature a rounded collar. And yet, that's not the way it looks on the celebratory item intended to commemorate Shaq's eight years, three NBA championships and one Most Valuable Player award in L.A. ... which seems wrong.

Well, it doesn't just seem wrong — it is wrong. Lakers vice president of public relations John Black told Ball Don't Lie on Wednesday that the reversed recognition "was an error and will be corrected as soon as we can get a new jersey for the wall made up." Black said the team hoped to have the replacement jersey ready "in about a week, but [it] could be a couple of weeks."

In the meantime, Lakers fans, just pretend that one of Shaq's requests for the retirement ceremony was having the jersey reversed because he loved Kris Kross so much. It'll add a different, more whimsical kind of nostalgia to each upward glance at Staples.

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