MIAMI – Not to be outdone, the Lakers announced Tuesday they will officially unveil a statue of Shaquille O’Neal outside the Staples Center on March 24, 2017. The announcement came two days before Shaq’s No. 32 will be retired by the Heat.
As a tribute to the larger-than-life Laker great, whose career with the organization produced three NBA Championships, the Los Angeles Lakers, STAPLES Center, and AEG organizations commissioned the creation of a 1,200 pound, nine-foot bronze statue of the NBA Hall of Fame member. O’Neal’s statue will be connected to STAPLES Center, suspended 10 feet above the ground, at Star Plaza.
O’Neal was a member of the Lakers from 1996-2004, leading the team to three consecutive NBA Championships from 2000-2002, winning the NBA Finals MVP award each time. A seven-time All-Star for the Purple & Gold, O’Neal was also named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2000.
O’Neal’s Heat jersey will be retired at halftime of the Heat’s game Thursday against the Lakers. He will join Alonzo Mourning (33) and Tim Hardaway (10) as the lone Heat players to have their numbers retired.
Shaq now will have three different numbers retired by three teams: The Heat; Lakers (No. 34) and LSU (No. 33).
Shaq will join Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzky, Oscar De La Hoya and Chick Hern with a statue outside the Staples Center.
The Magic, who drafted Shaq with the No. 1 pick in 1992, have yet to retire his, or any other player’s, number. Shaq played four full seasons in Orlando before leaving for L.A. as a free agent in 1996.
Shaq averaged 27.2 points and 12.5 rebounds for Orlando, 27.0 points and 11.8 rebounds in eight seasons with the Lakers and 19.6 points and 9.1 rebounds in 3 ½ seasons with Miami.
He finished his career with two seasons in Phoenix and one each in Cleveland and Boston.