One of the NBA’s greatest big men of all times, Shaquille O’Neal, learned on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Wednesday night that the Los Angeles Lakers will honor him with a statue at the Staples Center.
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) January 28, 2016
The seven-foot-one, fifteen-time NBA All-Star kept asking the late night entertainer “Seriously?” after being shown an artist rendering of the proposed monument. “That’s awesome,” an incredulous Shaq exclaimed.
ESPN reported that Lakers President and co-owner Jeanie Buss stated the statue will go up sometime during the 2016-17 season.
“We look forward to having Shaq join the other legends who have been honored with statues at Staples Center,” Buss said. “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.”
O’Neal now keeps company with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Chick Hearn, Wayne Gretzky, and Oscar De La Hoya, all of whom already enjoy tribute statues outside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Earlier this year O’Neal declared and repeated on the Kimmel show that if honored with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, he’ll probably go in as a Los Angeles Laker.
A first-year nominee, “The Big Aristotle” finds out if he’s a finalist during the NBA All-Star Weekend in February. The NBA announces the Hall of Fame inductees in April and the induction ceremony will be held in September.
O’Neal, the 1992 NBA first overall draft pick out of LSU, told Kimmel that if selected he wants Dr. J (Julius Irving), Magic Johnson, and Dale Brown to introduce him at the ceremony.