Shaquille O’Neal is one of the all-time greatest players in NBA history, most notably for his three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers during a dominant era in the early 2000’s. With all the talk of Kobe Bryant‘s retirement and the fanfare that’s accompanied it, it’s easy to forget how big a part of that success O’Neal was, as he was arguably responsible for the bulk of it during their three-peat. The Lakers, however, have not forgotten and with the Hall of Fame on the very near horizon, the Lakers are getting out in front of giving Shaq the recognition he deserves.
Wednesday night during an appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the Diesel was surprised when Kimmel revealed that O’Neal will be getting a statue outside Staples Center along with the other all-time greats.
That’s a pretty great moment. Here’s the official statement from the Lakers:
Following is a statement from Lakers President and co-owner Jeanie Buss regarding the announcement that Shaquille O’Neal will be honored with a statue at STAPLES Center. The statue will be unveiled on a date yet to be determined during the 2016-17 season:
“We look forward to having Shaq join the other legends who have been honored with statues at STAPLES Center,” said Buss. “He is a giant not only in size, but also in stature and in what he accomplished as a Laker. Shaq literally broke the ground for the site, and was hugely responsible for not only getting STAPLES Center built, but for making it one of the most successful and famous arenas in the world. It’s an honor that is well deserved.”
In the eight seasons O’Neal spent with the Lakers, he averaged 25.9 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, being named an All-Star seven times and All-NBA eight times, winning an NBA MVP award in 2000, three NBA championships and three NBA Finals MVP awards. His run cemented him as one of the best centers in league history and while his starpower was already considerable from the moment he stepped on the floor with the Magic, his time in LA made him an even bigger cultural entity, which has carried over past his playing days and into both TV and film appearances and his ongoing work as a studio presence on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.”
L.A. retired his jersey in 2013, but the honor of having a statue next to Magic, Kareem and Jerry West is on an entirely higher level, one that is sure to be shared by his partner in crime Kobe Bryant in the coming years following his retirement.
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