The Los Angeles Lakers have a long list of storied accomplishments. The most impressive of those is obviously their sixteen NBA championships. To rack up that many championships, you need the right people, and the Lakers have had no shortage of great players throughout the years.
Shaquille O’Neal was one of those great players, winning three consecutive titles and NBA Finals MVP awards from 2000 to 2002. With his old teammate Kobe Bryant retiring after the season, a hot topic has been what jersey number the Lakers will retire: 8, 24 or both. A statue honoring Bryant’s career will certainly be outside of the Staples Center one day, but his old teammate appears to be in line for one first.
.@SHAQ's statue outside @STAPLESCenter to be unveiled at some point in 2016-17 season. Statement from @JeanieBuss: pic.twitter.com/j3nBNzvw6q
— Baxter Holmes (@Baxter) January 28, 2016
O’Neal had his No. 34 jersey retired by the Lakers back in 2013, and now he will join the likes of Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as players with commemorative statues honoring former Lakers players. Legendary broadcaster Chick Hearn also has his own statue outside of the arena.
Shaq was one of the most dominant and beloved players in the franchise’s history, and remains to this day to be the most significant free agent signing the Lakers have ever had. His talent combined with his personality made him a perfect fit in Los Angeles, and now he is getting the ultimate tribute from the purple and gold.
O’Neal found out the news during his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Wednesday.
Surprise surprise, @SHAQ.
On @JimmyKimmelLive, the Lakers icon learned he'd be honored w/ a Staples Center statue. https://t.co/ULVyD048x2
— ESPN (@espn) January 28, 2016
Despite winding up in Boston playing for the rival Celtics at the end of his career, Shaq deserves every bit of this. His short tenure with the Celtics doesn’t even come close to tarnishing his massive contributions to Los Angeles and his legacy with the Lakers. Not only is he one of the greatest players in the team’s history, but he’s one of the best the NBA has ever seen. He has the statue ceremony to look forward to next season, followed by a trip to the Hall of Fame.
Congratulations, Shaq. You deserve it.