Jerry West. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Magic Johnson. Chick Hearn. And Shaquille O’Neal. That esteemed quintet of hoops royalty is synonymous with the Los Angeles Lakers, and the league’s glamour franchise decided to immortalize each franchise legend with a statue standing outside of Staples Center.
O’Neal, a three-time champion and Finals MVP with the purple and gold in the early 2000s, didn’t believe it when the plans for his memorial were unveiled on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” earlier this week. The future Hall of Famer had a much, much different relationship with the Lakers than Kobe Bryant, his sidekick en route to that career-defining three-peat. Kobe’s place in Lakers lore has never been in doubt; the same couldn’t always be said for O’Neal.
But it certainly is now, and with O’Neal’s statue and Bryant’s retirement both imminent, it’s easy to wonder just how Los Angeles will honor the latter when his playing days are over. ESPN’s J.A. Adande recently caught up with the five-time champion, who shed some light on the design process behind his future memorial – most specifically, that he won’t be involved in it whatsoever.
“That’s a weird conversation to have with somebody about their own statue and what they want to have,” a grinning Bryant said. “That’s just a weird thing to think about.”
For him, maybe, but certainly not for us.