Shaquille O'Neal won three straight championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, will go down as one of the franchise's all-time greatest players and next year, he'll be immortalized in statue form outside Staples Center.
Jimmy Kimmel broke the news to O'Neal on Wednesday night. It was a total surprise, and seriously awesome. Having one of the most successful organizations in professional sports history honor you with something that's supposed to last forever is kind of a big deal; the 43-year-old was clearly touched:
Lakers part-owner and president Jeannie Buss issued a poignant statement in O'Neal's honor earlier that night:
The decision comes less than three years after Los Angeles retired the 15-time All-Star's number, too. In eight seasons with the team, he averaged 27.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, and will go down as one of the most physically dominant forces the NBA has ever seen:
Shaq's statue will go beside those that stand for former Laker greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Hall of Fame announcer Chick Hearn.
And there's no doubt that Kobe Bryant will join them all some day very soon.