Photo courtesy of LSU
By Jordan Blum
The (Baton Rouge, La.) Advocate
Louisiana State University will soon have a permanent fixture of Shaquille O’Neal executing one of his rim-rocking dunks.
The university plans to unveil a bronze, life-size statue of a young Shaq dunking in his LSU basketball uniform outside of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center’s new practice facility, said Herb Vincent, LSU associate vice chancellor for communications.
The 900-pound statue would represent the first on campus of a former LSU student athlete.
O’Neal attended LSU from 1989-92, leaving after his junior season. He eventually got his degree in 2000.
“We’re just waiting for him to come down so he can be a big part of it,” Vincent said.
The tentative plan is to unveil the statue during the NBA off-season, Vincent said. It would have to be prior to October. O’Neal’s Boston Celtics are currently one game from being eliminated in their playoff matchup against the Miami Heat.
Vincent said the four-time NBA champion — three of them with the Lakers — was a natural selection to be LSU’s first statue of an athlete because he is an “iconic figure” worldwide. O’Neal also is the only LSU student athlete in any major sport to win a national player of the year award in college and an MVP award in the pros.
“We’re honoring him for his accomplishments . and it’s a good recruiting tool,” Vincent said.
The $70,000 project is privately funded, he said.
“It’s already been done,” Vincent said. “It’s in storage.”
Vincent said an online blog report by SportsByBrooks.com (linked here) that O’Neal is resisting having the statue installed is inaccurate.
“He’s never been resistant about it,” Vincent said.
He also denied information in the report that LSU has plans to erect statues of former basketball greats Maravich, Bob Petit and current WNBA star Seimone Augustus.
“It’s designed for one statue right in the middle,” Vincent said, referring to the entrance outside of the PMAC practice facility. “We have no plans for other statues at this time.”
The only other athletic statue at LSU is of former women’s basketball coach Sue Gunter, who died in 2005. The statue is in the concourse area of the PMAC.
However, the Tiger Manor apartment complex near LSU has statues of former football greats Billy Cannon, Warren Rabb and former LSU football coach Paul Dietzel.
Vincent said it is just a “coincidence” that LSU will unveil its O’Neal statue at a time when other universities like Auburn, Alabama and Florida are all erecting statues of athletes or coaches.
Alabama recently completed a statue of football coach — and former LSU coach — Nick Saban. Auburn is building statues of its three Heisman Trophy winners, including 2011 winner Cam Newton. And Florida now has statues of its Heisman winners, including 2007 winner Tim Tebow.