After first announcing the news in January, the Los Angeles Lakers honored Shaquille O’Neal on Friday (March 24), with a bronze statue outside Staples Center.
During a ceremony, attending by hundreds of fans, a number of figures throughout Shaq’s life spoke about their experiences with the NBA big man.
“When I look up at that statue, I will see the kind of talented, passionate and generous man that we’ve been building statues to for 30,000 years,” said NBA legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said. “And we should all be inspired to be our best selves.”
Phil Jackson, Jerry West and Kobe Bryant all spoke, the latter of which praised Shaq for being such a force on the court.
“Most dominant player I’ve ever seen,” Kobe said, mimicking O’Neal’s deep voice. “I learned so much from you as a player.” He then looked over to O’Neal’s six children, who were seated in the front row, adding: “Kids, you should know your dad was a bad man.”
“Brother, thank you,” O’Neal said, turning toward Bryant. “We had our battles, we had our times but we always had respect for each other.”
Eventually, Shaq’s youngest son pulled a gold braided cord to drop a shiny gold curtain and unveil the massive statue of his dad throwing down a monster dunk with his legs in the air. It’s nine feet tall and weighs 1,200 pounds, and suspended 10 feet in the air, attached to the arena’s side.