The Heat will retire Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 32 during a halftime ceremony on Dec. 22 at AmericanAirlines Arena. Its opponent that night? The Los Angeles Lakers, who traded O’Neal to the Heat in 2004.
O’Neal spent 3 1/2 seasons with the Heat, winning an NBA title with Miami in 2006.
The ceremony will include a video presentation and the raising of the No. 32 retirement banner. O’Neal and Heat president Pat Riley are scheduled to address the fans.
O’Neal will become the third Heat player to have his jersey retired, joining Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway.
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The Heat took a timeout from basketball on Sunday — an off day between games — to soak in some history. Players and coaches visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened two months ago in Washington.
“It was a very emotional experience for a lot of us, and I’m glad we did it,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra of the team’s three-hour private tour and visit. “We could have spent the entire day there and that wouldn’t have been enough.”
Said Heat forward Justise Winslow: “I think it was emotional for all of us. A lot of us are African-American or come from black descent. It was great just to go in there and learn something.”
Spoelstra said it’s important for players to take their minds off basketball once in a while, and visiting museums and landmarks are enriching experiences.
“When you have opportunities to have something like that, I think it’s a no-brainer,” Spoelstra said. “It had really nothing to do with our team or basketball. It’s a learning experience, and I think it’s a great thing for everybody to be there together to learn and understand real American history.”
The Heat players weren’t the only athletes visiting the museum on Sunday. Tennis star Serena Williams also toured the new, four-story museum.
▪ The Heat missed 10 free throws, going 7 for 17, in Saturday’s fourth quarter against the Wizards, narrowly escaping with a three-point victory after leading by as many as 17 in the final quarter.
“As long as we’re getting to the free-throw line, we’re getting attacks, guys are working at it, that’s the most important thing,” Spoelstra said. “I’m not going to make it more than what it is.”
The Heat is the worst free-throw shooting team in the NBA at 66 percent.
“Just got to work at it,” Spoelstra said.
▪ It’s doubtful that Willie Reed will see action for the remainder of the trip because of a hyperextended right knee. Reed sustained the injury on Saturday when he went up to block a shot and landed awkwardly.
“I actually watched it [again],” Reed said. “They didn’t want me to watch it. I knew that I hyperextended it. It was just more painful than any other hyperextension that I’ve ever had.”
▪ Winslow is still dealing with a sore left wrist but said it’s improving.
“I’m definitely making progress,” Winslow said. “I think the last couple of days really helped, just getting some of the soreness out of there. Hopefully, I’ll wake up [Tuesday] and it doesn’t hurt.”
Winslow has missed the past four games because of the injury.