Los Angeles finally gets to look at something bigger than Shaq.
The Lakers unveiled a nine-foot, 1,200-pound bronze statue of Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal outside of Staples Center in a ceremony Friday. A plethora of his former teammates, coaches and fellow Lakers legends like Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were in attendance.
Magic Johnson elected not to attend so that he could scout players in Friday’s Sweet 16 game between Kentucky and UCLA, but a video of Magic’s well-wishes and congratulations was played during the ceremony.
The video was followed by a speech by Abdul-Jabbar, who unloaded a series of jokes before getting into his more serious sentiments about O’Neal’s impact on the city, and on basketball in general.
West spoke next about acquiring O’Neal:
Next up was Bryant, who kept it short and sweet, but gave a funny story about how O’Neal once got revenge on David Robinson.
After Bryant, O’Neal’s six children took the stage and three of them -- Taahira, Amir’ah and Myles -- spoke. Then it was time to unveil the statue, followed by an acceptance speech from O’Neal himself.
O’Neal’s statue will hang 10 feet above the ground in Star Plaza, alongside the statues of other Los Angeles sports greats like Abdul-Jabbar, longtime Lakers announcer Chick Hearn, Magic and West.
Here are some more sights from the event:
Also known as Shaq Diesel, Superman, The Big Aristotle and Shaq Daddy, O’Neal played with the Lakers for eight seasons, teaming up with Bryant to win back-to-back-to-back titles from 2000-02. Shaq is the only player besides Michael Jordan to win three straight NBA Finals MVP awards.
O’Neal averaged 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in his 19 NBA seasons. He won four titles overall, made the All-NBA first team eight times and was a 15-time All-Star. After starting his career in Orlando, he won his only MVP award with the Lakers in 2000, and also played for the Heat, Suns, Cavaliers and Celtics before retiring after the 2010-11 season.