Los Angeles added another tourist attraction.
NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, a.k.a “The Diesel,” and “Superman” among a long list of other names the 19-year veteran picked up, will have his own monument. At Star Plaza outside of Los Angeles Lakers home arena STAPLES Center is where tourist will find a 1,500-pound bronze statue of O’Neal dunking. Celebrating the monument the Lakers held an unveiling Friday, March 24. The monument will be the team’s eighth statue.
The event brought together O’Neal, his former coach Phil Jackson and teammate Kobe Bryant who all worked together to bring the Lakers three consecutive NBA Championships. Other Laker legends such as Hall of Famers Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Magic Johnson sharing a message via satellite were present.
“Thank you. I’ve learned so much from you as a player and everything that you’ve done for this city, everything that you’ve done for this franchise and the kids,” Bryant said. “You guys should know we was a bad man…congratulations and much love to you my brotha.”
His former coach Jackson spoke to why it’s important that O’Neal’s monument is added to Star Plaza.
“This whole complex deserves the right to see this man as a statue because we saw him as a player,” Jackson said.
O’Neal thanked his Laker teammates on his championship teams and saved the best for his partner Bryant.
“I just wanna say brotha, ‘thank you.’ We pushed each other, we had our battles, we had our times but we had always had a respect for each other and we were able to win three championships,” O’Neal said to Bryant. “I definitely couldn’t have done it without you. I appreciate you very much. The next time we’ll gather for a statue it’ll probably be for you.”
Closing the ceremony, O’Neal signed off with none other than his signature tagline.
“Can you dig it! Can you dig it!” O’Neal said.
By Gino Terrell