The news caught Shaquille O’Neal by surprise.
“Seriously?” O’Neal said with a hint of both excitement and disbelief.
The news sounded good to O’Neal’s ears. But he sounded initially reluctant toward listening.
“You’re playing,” O’Neal said.
But late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel pleaded for O’Neal to hear him out.
“Seriously, I swear to God,” Kimmel said. “This is not a prank.”
Kimmel had just revealed to O’Neal on Wednesday night that the Lakers will unveil a statue of him outside of Staples Center. Kimmel showed an artist rendering that shows O’Neal offering one of his powerful dunks. Kimmel reported the Lakers told him to deliver the news. The Lakers then confirmed this will happen at some point during the 2016-17 season.
“We look forward to having Shaq join the other legends who have been honored with statues at STAPLES Center,” Lakers president Jeanie Buss in a statement. “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.”