LSU forward Shareef O’Neal wanted to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant on the court. O’Neal — the son of Bryant’s former teammate Shaquille O’Neal — will wear No. 32 during his sophomore year.
Why did O’Neal choose No. 32? Because it’s the sum of 24 and 8, the numbers Bryant wore in the NBA. O’Neal transferred to LSU for his sophomore year. With UCLA, O’Neal wore No. 22.
The number has double meaning for O’Neal. His father Shaq wore both No. 32 and No. 34 in the NBA. Shaq started his career with the Orlando Magic wearing No. 32 before switching to No. 34. He later went back to No. 32 with the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers retired Shaq’s No. 34. The Heat retired Shaq’s No. 32. He’s one of the few NBA players to have two different numbers retired, joining Bryant. Shaq wore No. 33 at LSU, so both 32 and 34 were available for Shareef.
Ultimately, Shareef chose No. 32 due to the Bryant implications.
Shareef O’Neal texted with Kobe Bryant prior to Bryant’s death
While Shaq and Bryant had differences with the Lakers, those issues didn’t spill over to Shareef. Bryant and Shareef were close. Following Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash in January, Shareef revealed the two communicated earlier that day. Shareef considered Bryant an uncle.
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