Friday afternoon marked a pretty special occasion for the Los Angeles Lakers and their larger-than-life center, Shaquille O’Neal, as they unveiled a (pretty amazing) statue in front of STAPLES Center.
There speeches, laughs, a few tears and a flat-earth theory. You know, like we all predicted there would be.
Stu Lantz was the master of ceremonies as he has been for most all of these occasions since Chick Hearn’s passing. He told a story about the big man camp he and Pete Newell would put on featuring a camera being attached to a basket Shaq would eventually dunk on. Big mistake, as it turns out.
I had the task of managing the tweets as Harrison was present for the ceremony.
The first thing I noticed as the evening unfolded was the seating arrangement which was... Well... Interesting. Only the Lakers could provide such drama in the midst of such a festive night.
Kareem is sitting between Jeanie and Phil. He deserves another statue for this.— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) March 24, 2017
Harrison caught a glimpse of the reunion we were all waiting for.
All smiles here at Staples Center as Shaq, Kobe, Jeanie and Phil are reunited pic.twitter.com/BL9zzP3Ar8— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) March 24, 2017
Jeanie Buss sent a message to Shaq from the fans and topped it off with a pun, which I definitely appreciated.
Then, Kareem stepped up and holy good God it was amazing. Here’s a taste.
“Some thought the odds of Kobe showing up today were the same as Shaq sinking a free throw.”— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) March 24, 2017
GET THEM, KAREEM
The Captain was taking no prisoners. He also mentioned “Kazaam”, his own filmography and baldness. It was tremendous.
Phil Jackson was next to speak, and he started with a “Who Let The Dogs Out” reference, further proving that the Lakers are probably better off with him in New York.
Jerry West, who was running late due to traffic, spoke about the process of bringing Shaq to Los Angeles, which inspired this random thought, because it’s Friday night.
Honestly if I was Jerry West & I happened to be in L.A., I’d tell literally everyone I meet: “I got you Shaq and Kobe.” Then accept the beer— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) March 24, 2017
Kobe was next, and he kept his message to Shaq brief and efficient. Go ahead, make your joke.
Shaq spoke next and he brought the house down. He shouted out teammates, Lakers greats and made a request for guys who should get statues next. Here are a couple highlights.
“I was about to sign a 98 million dollar and *sportscenter noise* my good friend Alonzo Mourning signed for 115 and I was like oooh.” Lmaooo— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) March 25, 2017
Shaq just described Robert Horry’s famous shot and the description included “Vlade’s floppin’ self” and I’m effing dying over here— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) March 25, 2017
Shaq wrapped up his speech with his trademarked “CAAAAN YOUUUU DIIIG ITTTT”, which obviously did very well, but throughout the ceremony, I couldn’t help but think this to myself:
On the stage at one time, you had three top-seven scorers ever, a coach who’s won more championships than any other in NBA history, arguably the most dominant force the league has ever seen (you know, the guy getting a statue), the NBA’s damn logo and that wasn’t even the full representation of Lakers history.
That’s as insane as we are blessed to root for this organization.
Congratulations to Shaq on the much-deserved honor. The night was a perfect representation of what he stood for as player, and a man.