Shaq to Join Fellow Lakers Legends With Statue Treatment
When it comes to the Lakers, there is no higher honor than the one that Shaquille O’Neal is set to receive on Friday.
Thirteen years after the Big Fella dominated the hardwood for the purple and gold, his likeness will be immortalized in bronze outside of Staples Center.
The 9-foot, 1,200-pound statue of O’Neal throwing down a slam dunk is a testament to the impact that he had during his time as a Laker.
Few ever reach the heights required to earn this honor, which is why Shaq will become just the fifth person in team history to receive it.
Four years after Staples Center opened, the Lakers paid tribute to the man who made their old home, the Forum, the place to be in the 1980s.
Five-time champion Magic Johnson was the first to be honored with a statue on Feb. 11, 2004, as the leader of the Showtime Lakers was bestowed a 17-foot tall depiction of him leading a fast-break.
Now the franchise’s President of Basketball Operations, Johnson will seek to add to his legacy, which already boasts five MVP trophies and 12 All-Star selections.
Despite the fact that he never played a minute, Chick Hearn might have left a bigger impact on the Lakers — and the game of basketball itself — than anyone else.
The Lakers’ play-by-play announcer for 42 years, Hearn had died eight years before the Lakers unveiled his statue during a playoff series on April 20, 2010.
Hearn’s widow, Marge, was the first to sit in the empty seat next to Hearn’s likeness, which was placed there so fans can pose with Hearn. And legends like James Worthy and broadcast partner Stu Lantz toasted the man who coined phrases like “slam dunk” and “finger roll.”
When the Lakers first arrived in Los Angeles in 1960, they brought with them a rookie who would go on to orchestrate two eras of the team’s dominance.
As a player, Jerry West was named an All-Star for all 14 years of his career. “Mr. Clutch” led the Lakers to the 1972 championship and had a large hand in adding three more banners in the early 2000s. As the team’s general manager in 1996, he traded for rookie Kobe Bryant and signed free agent Shaquille O’Neal.
On Feb. 17, 2011, West was honored with his own statue of himself mid-dribble — a pose familiar to basketball fans around the world since it was used as the NBA logo, which remains to this day.
On Feb. 17, 2011, basketball’s most unstoppable shot was memorialized forever in bronze.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — the NBA’s all-time leading scorer — received his statue, which depicted him in the middle of launching his famous skyhook.
Abdul-Jabbar — whose many accolades include six championships, six MVP awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom — was vocal about his desire for a statue, which was at last awarded to him with the likes of Magic Johnson and Pat Riley in attendance.
On March 24, 2016, O’Neal will become the latest to receive the bronze treatment.
A ceremony will be held featuring Shaq, his teammates, friends and others, as the Hall of Famer will unveil the statue of himself dunking, which will hang off a Staples Center awning for all to see.
Note: Staples Center also features statues of Los Angeles Kings greats Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille, as well as L.A. native and champion boxer Oscar De La Hoya.