Jermaine O’Neal, who will make his debut with the Heat on Wednesday, didn’t offer up anything like a Mercedes or a few thousand dollars to new teammate Mario Chalmers for the No. 6 – the number O’Neal wore in Toronto.
No, O’Neal has chosen to go back to wearing No. 7 – the number he wore as a member of the Indiana Pacers. His jersey is already for sale at miamihoopsgear.com or by going to heat.com. And Andy Montero, Heat senior director of retail operations, tells us there will be O’Neal jerseys for sale at AmericanAirlines Arena at Wednesday’s game.
But upstairs on the 300 level of the arena are No. 32 O’Neal jerseys – remaining from Shaquille O’Neal’s tenure with the Heat – at a steep discount. Those are for sale for $10 apiece and fans are still buying them, Heat officials say.
There was no encouraging Jermaine O'Neal to pick No. 32 or special program to pay a few dollars to have your No. 32s replaced with No. 7s. This is, after all, another merchandising opportunity.
“He’s a former Heat player, just like Glen Rice is a former Heat player. We’re happy to see people show up in No. 32 O’Neal jerseys,” Heat executive vice president Michael McCullough said. “We hope more of them get No. 7 O’Neal jerseys.”
“It’s a different player,” Montero added. “It’s a new era.”
The team even has some remaining No. 7 jerseys for Shawn Marion – who was traded to Toronto for Jermaine O’Neal, Montero said.
Additionally, Jamario Moon's No. 8 Heat jerseys will be available at the arena on Wednesday. Moon wore No. 33 in Toronto -- the same number Alonzo Mourning wore with the Heat.
COOK THREE-POINT MERCHANDISE
Meanwhile, the Heat has ordered 60 commemorative versions of the orange and purple “money balls” from this past weekend’s NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix to sell in honor of Daequan Cook winning the three-point contest. The team will also sell 8 x 10 photos of Cook shooting the “money ball.” Those should arrive within a week and will sell at the Miami Hoops Gear store and online -- $70 for the basketball and $5 for the photos, Montero said. He said the same thing was done to honor Jason Kapono, who won the three-point contest in 2007.