By CODY WORSHAM
Tiger Rag Editor
Five retired jerseys hang from the rafters of the PMAC: Pete Maravich, Rudy Macklin, Shaquille O’Neal, Bob Pettit and Seimone Augustus.
If Shaq has his way, there will soon be a sixth: his former teammate, Chris Jackson.
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In a letter obtained by Tiger Rag, addressed to the LSU Basketball Jersey Retirement Nomination Committee, O’Neal unequivocally endorses the retirement of Jackson’s jersey, calling his former teammate “one of the greatest basketball talents I’ve ever been around and one of the greatest in college basketball history.”
“You know his record at LSU,” O’Neal writes. “You saw him bring LSU fans out of their seats. When I heard you might consider retiring his jersey, I jumped at the chance to offer my input as to what Chris Jackson meant to the LSU Basketball Team.”
Jackson, who changed his name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf after leaving LSU, was a two-time consensus SEC Player of the Year and First Team All-American in his only two seasons as a Tiger. In 1988-89, he set the NCAA Division 1 scoring record for freshmen, averaging 30.2 points per game, a mark that still stands today.
He averaged 27.8 points as a sophomore, when he teamed up alongside O’Neal and Stanley Roberts, leaving LSU with 1,854 points (eighth all-time) and a 29.0 career point per game average, second in school history only to Pete Maravich’s 44.2 point average. He holds school records for made three pointers in a game (10), consecutive free throws made (35), field goals made in a game (19), and free throw percentage in a single season (.9095). He had four 50 point games, seven 40 point games, and 16 30 point games, reaching double figures in 62 of his 63 career contests for LSU.
According to LSUSports.net:
To have a jersey retired at LSU, an athlete must have completed intercollegiate competition for LSU a minimum of five years prior to nomination. Athletes must have demonstrated truly unusual and outstanding accomplishments, exceeding and in addition to all criteria used for Hall of Fame selection. The athletic performance must be considered unique, such as winning of a Heisman Trophy or National Player of the Year award, and should be based on the total LSU career. Athletes may also be considered for making dramatic impact on the popularity of his or her sport or for significant participation in positive change in LSU Athletics. Nominees must have a unanimous vote of support from the Hall of Fame committee.
…The retirement of an athlete’s jersey in a particular sport does not preclude a current student-athlete in that sport from wearing the jersey number in that or any other sport, subject to the discretion of the head coach. This provision applies only to jerseys retired after January 1, 2007, so the numbers worn by Maravich, Pettit, O’Neal, (Billy) Cannon and (Skip) Bertman may never again be worn by future student-athletes in their respective sports.
“I most certainly encourage you to hang that banner with Chris’ number on it,” O’Neal writes. “He earned it.”
Should LSU retire Chris Jackson's jersey?
— Tiger Rag (@Tiger_Rag) July 20, 2016