Shaquille O’Neal is set to be honored with a statue outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The Lakers made the announcement on Wednesday night (Jan. 27), revealing that the statue will be unveiled during the 2016-17 season.
“We look forward to having Shaq join the other legends who have been honored with statues at STAPLES Center,” Jeanie Buss, Lakers president and co-owner, said in a statement. “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, himself, found out the news during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
After Shaq was showed an artist’s rendering of the statue, to which he replied “Seriously?” several times. “That’s awesome.”
O’Neal played eight seasons for the Lakers, from 1996 to 2004, where he won three NBA titles alongside Kobe Bryant. During his time in Los Angeles, he was the 1999-2000 NBA MVP and the NBA Finals MVP for all three of those Lakers titles. He also made the All-Star Game in seven of his seasons in Los Angeles.
He was eventually traded to the Miami Heat in July 2004, after his relationship with Kobe finally broke down… and retired in the summer of 2011.
The Lakers retired O’Neal’s jersey in April 2013, and when his statue is unveiled, it will join those of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Chick Hearn, Wayne Gretzky and Oscar De La Hoya outside Staples Center.