Lakers Announce Shaquille O'Neal Statue to Be Unveiled Next Season

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Lakers Announce Shaquille O'Neal Statue to Be Unveiled Next Season
MARK J. TERRILL/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers are set to unveil a statue of legendary center Shaquille O'Neal outside Staples Center during the 2016-17 season, the team announced in a statement. 

Said Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss:

We look forward to having Shaq join the other legends who have been honored with statues at STAPLES Center. 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.

A screen shot captured by Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News indicated O'Neal was surprised with the news during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Shaq joins Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and legendary broadcaster Chick Hearn as the only people affiliated with the purple and gold to be immortalized with statues outside Staples Center.  

O'Neal was one of the most dominant players ever to don a Lakers uniform, and his status as a low-post anchor alongside Kobe Bryant helped the Lakers three-peat with NBA Finals victories over the Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets. 

However, his career in L.A. came to a bit of an unceremonious end when he was traded to the Miami Heat following the Lakers' 2004 NBA Finals loss to the Detroit Pistons.

According to Basketball-Reference.com, Shaq ranks second in Lakers history with a scoring average of 27 points per game. His field-goal percentage of 57.5 in purple and gold also ranks second, behind Wilt Chamberlain (60.5 percent).

Furthermore, Shaq ranks sixth in total rebounds (6,090), seventh in points scored (13,895) and second in blocks (1,278) despite playing just eight full seasons in Hollywood. O'Neal is also the Lakers' all-time leader in player efficiency rating with a mark of 28.9. 

Shaq led the NBA in field-goal percentage during six of his eight seasons with the Lakers and averaged a league-leading 29.7 points en route to capturing MVP honors following the 1999-00 campaign. 

A three-time Finals MVP who helped usher in a prosperous new era of Lakers basketball, O'Neal is more than deserving of the statue coming to Staples Center. 

The only question now revolves around where Bryant's eventual statue will sit in relation to Shaq's outside the hardwood the Lakers call home. 

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