Shaquille O’Neal learned he was being honored by the Lakers with a statue outside of the Staples Center during a visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Jimmy Kimmel informed Shaquille O’Neal on Wednesday night that he will be honored by his former team the Los Angeles Lakers with his own statue outside of the Staples Center. The NBA legend and Inside the NBA analyst played for the Lakers for eight out of his 18 seasons in the league, winning three consecutive championships and scoring half of his nearly 30,000 career points while sporting the team’s signature purple and gold.
Kimmel began by mentioning that Shaq had his jersey retired by the Lakers in 2013, and noting that he will be eligible for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year. O’Neal received loud cheers from the audience as he revealed that he planned to be memorialized as a Laker when he is selected for the Hall of the Fame, which could be announced during next month’s All-Star weekend.
“This is a surprise for you, the Lakers asked me to mention it,” Kimmel told Shaq. “This is the statue of you they’re putting up at the Staples Center.”
“You’re playing, I don’t believe you,” an incredulous and teary-eyed Shaq responded to the host, who’s known to play pranks on his show.
Kimmel promised he wasn’t joking and pointed to an artist rendering of the bronze statue that displays the iconic image of him pulling down the rim after a forceful dunk.
“I imagine there’s going to be some pretty profane photographs taken with this kind of a thing,” joked Kimmel while re-positioning his head under the image.
The Lakers have since confirmed plans for the statue on their website later Wednesday night to be unveiled during the 2016-2017 season. Said co-owner Jeanie Buss:
"“We look forward to having Shaq join the other legends who have been honored with statues at STAPLES Center. 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.”"
Shaq joins fellow Lakers legends Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who all have monuments outside the team’s home arena. O’Neal’s former teammate/rival Kobe Bryant – who is retiring after this season – is sure to join them one day.
O’Neal, 43, averaged 27.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game during his time with the Lakers. His continued honoring shows that there’s no animosity between him and the organization despite the fact that he was unceremoniously traded to the Miami Heat following the Lakers’ 2004 NBA Finals loss to the Detroit Pistons.
The rest of O’Neal’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! found him giving a birthday spanking to Guillermo (the show’s jovial bodyguard), explaining why he gave his 16-year-old son two cars for his birthday, revealing his work out regiment, and a brief conversation about the recent scandal involving LA Clippers power forward Blake Griffin.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! airs weeknights on ABC, while Shaq can be seen on Inside the NBA Thursday nights on TNT. Kimmel’s guests on Thursday will be actor Ewan McGregor, comedian Hannibal Buress, and musical guest Tory Lanez.