Shaquille O'Neal to be honored by Lakers with a Staples Center statue

When Shaquille O'Neal went on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," he expected to be the one providing the news.

When Kimmel asked the four-time NBA champion about potentially entering the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, O'Neal received loud applause as he stated he planned to be memorialized as a Laker if he is selected for the Hall. O'Neal is eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame this year.

But Kimmel quickly turned the tables on O'Neal. Kimmel mentioned another honor bestowed upon certain Laker greats: the erection of a bronze statue outside Staples Center.

"You don't know about this. This is a surprise to you," Kimmel said to O'Neal as an artist's rendering of a bronzed O'Neal dunking was shown behind him. "The Lakers asked me to mention it. This is the statue of you they are putting up at the Staples Center."

Lakers President and co-owner Jeanie Buss confirmed the news in a statement released by the team:

"We look forward to having Shaq join the other legends who have been honored with statues at Staples Center," said Buss. "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."

O'Neal will join legends Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and Chick Hearn as those honored by the Lakers with statues outside the arena. O'Neal spent eight of his 18 NBA seasons with the Lakers. With one of the all-time great centers teaming with a young, fearless shooting guard named Kobe Bryant, the purple and gold won three consecutive titles from 1999-2002.

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