The distinguishable trait Shaquille O’Neal displayed over his 19-year NBA career involved both his dominating presence on the court and his gigantic personality off of it.
So it’s hardly any surprise that Shaq spent his appearance Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live trying to stuff as many peeps he could in his mouth. Or that Shaq laughed at how former Suns center Louis Amundson once filled up with his car with peanuts as an April Fool’s prank.
But Shaq has a serious side. And with the Lakers honoring his No. 34 jersey at halftime of tonight’s game against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center, O’Neal sounded bittersweet about the honor.
“It’s very exciting,” said O’Neal, who guided the Lakers to three NBA championships in his eight years here. “If I had one wish, I wish Dr. Jerry Buss was here. Usually it takes five to seven years to get this process done. But because of him, the process was moved up very fast. I just wish he was there to celebrate his joyous life.”
Buss died Feb. 18 due to an undisclosed form of cancer.
As soon as O’Neal announced his retirement in May, 2011, the Lakers immediately announced plans to retire his jersey. The move was somewhat unprecedented considering the Lakers have retired eight other players once they were nominated for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, including Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, George Mikan, James Worthy and Jamaal Wilkes.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org