First off, let’s preface this with the fact I think it’s silly for the Miami Heat to retire Shaq’s jersey tonight when the Los Angeles Lakers come to town.

No doubt Shaquille O’Neal is one of the two or three most dominant players the NBA has ever seen but to retire the man’s jersey after the player logged just three seasons and change with a team is ridiculous.

For the record, I think retiring Tim Hardaway’s jersey was a bit over the top as well. He spent five full seasons with Miami and was nowhere near as impactful overall as someone like Alonzo Mourning and Dwyane Wade after him, the latter two being the only two members of the Miami Heat I think should have the honor of having their jersey hang in the American Airlines Arena rafters.

I also would not retire LeBron’s jersey not because he wasn’t the main reason Miami won their second and third title but because, again, I believe jersey retiring should go to longtime players, superstars synonymous with the franchise.

Orlando Alzugaray went haywire when discussing the topic on Twitter this week.

Wait for it…

Here it comes…

Jesus Christ.

“Shaq meant squat” and “was just a guy” are the parts of Big O’s spiel I have a major issue with.

While Dwyane Wade may have been more important to the Heat winning its first championship in 2006, to belittle Shaq’s contributions as “squat” is both ignorant and disrespectful to the Diesel’s impact as a player and the culture he helped construct in Miami. Pat Riley even recently referred to the Shaq trade as “the most important acquisition that we’ve ever made.”

While Shaq wasn’t the Godly 28-and-12 force he was during his prime in Orlando and Los Angeles, he was absolutely critical to Miami’s success in 2005, 2006, and the Big Three Era that followed. Had Wade not been injured in 2005, they would’ve contended for another title with that lethal one-two combo.

Heat writer Chris Posada of All U Can Heat summed up the Shaq-Heat partnership perfectly.

You just don’t win championships in this league without multiple superstars. Wade became the bona fide alpha in 2006 but credit Shaq for reigning in his massive ego and executing the role of sidekick.

O’Neal averaged 18.4 points, 9.8 boards, and 1.5 blocks during the 2006 playoffs, converting at a scorching 75 percent within three feet and 62 percent from the field. But Shaq’s biggest impact wasn’t his stats but his mere presence. Having the threat of a 300-plus pounder with ballerina feet lurking around the hoop must be accounted for, often with multiple defenders, and without question opened up the court for Wade to operate.

Wade provided us with a string of epic performances during the Heat’s 2006 title run but that championship would have likely never occurred without Shaq drawing attention down low. And who knows if the Big Three Era ever occurs without Shaq aiding Miami to its first title, which essentially legitimized the Heat’s standing as an elite franchise.

As for the jersey raising, when I think Shaq, I think Lakers, and even Magic, before I think Heat. But to say Shaquille O’Neal was “just a guy” who did “squat” during the Miami Heat’s first successful title run and the golden years that followed is blasphemous.