Shaquille O’Neal gets a statue outside the Staples Center

Shaq statue

Courtesy of NBA.com

 

There was seven iconic statues outside of the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, and they added another one — and it is a doosie!

The Los Angeles Lakers organization held a ceremony Friday night honoring Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, with his family, former teammates, and coaches in attendance to celebrate his tenure with the team. During the event they unveiled a nine-foot bronze statue to honor O’Neal for what he accomplished as a Laker.

Shaq in front of his statue

Courtesy of Getty Images

 

It shows O’Neal hanging off a basketball hoop – something he became renowned for during his career.

A number of basketball’s stars turned out for the ceremony including Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson, Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

O’Neal is the fourth Laker to have a statue in his likeness, joining Magic Johnson,  West, and Abdul-Jabbar, all of which had a message for Shaq Friday night.

O’Neal, who was awarded MVP while playing for the Lakers in 2000, is one of basketball’s all-time great players and arguably the most dominant during his prime.  The Big Aristotle won three NBA championships with the franchise during his eight seasons donning the purple and gold, averaging 27 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 2.5 rejections in 514 total appearances.  He also became the only player besides Michael Jordan to win three straight NBA finals MVP awards.  Shaquille played 19 NBA seasons before he retired in 2011.

O’Neal’s family, which includes his six children spoke on stage before the statue was unveiled; Shaq broke down in tears at one stage and had to be comforted by Bryant.

A special video of O’Neal’s time with the Lakers was played to the audience before Abdul-Jabbar spoke about the impact he has made to the sport.

Jokes were told too. ‘Some people thought the odds of Kobe Bryant showing up today were the same as Shaq sinking a free throw,’ Abdul-Jabbar said.

The other statues that are outside the arena at the Star Plaza are of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, the boxer Oscar De La Hoya the late long time Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn (behind a Laker desk with a chair for fans to sit down for a picture), and former Kings’ Hall of Fame left wing Luc Robitaille.

Since his recent retirement from the league, we all know Kobe’s likeness will don the Plaza.  We will just have to wait to see what number (8 or 24) and hairstyle will be on his bronzed replica.

 

 

 

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