Shaquille O’Neal got quite a surprise last night when he visited the set of “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” During an on-camera conversation with Kimmel that covered everything from late-night habits to Hall of Fame hopes, O’Neal learned that his former team, the L.A. Lakers, plan to unveil a statue of him outside the Staples Center. Other legendary athletes who have received that honor have included Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
While O’Neal has never been the bashful type, he seemed to have a hard time believing the news:
“I know you think I’m still kidding, but I’m really not,” Kimmel said after congratulating O’Neal.
“You are,” replied the basketball icon.
Their conversation also touched on the Basketball Hall of Fame induction announcement, which will come during the All Star Weekend and is expected to include O’Neal. When asked who he wants to introduce him, the former Laker had not one but three names in mind.
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“If I get picked I’d love to have Dr. J [Julius Erving], Magic Johnson and Dale Brown bring me in,” he replied.
Watch a clip of the interview here:
During his nearly 20-year career in the NBA, O’Neal certainly racked up enough credentials to be a contender for the Hall of Fame. In addition to having a career total of 28,596 points and 13,099 rebounds, he helped lead his teams to four national championships and was the finals MVP three of those times.
He also made quite a name for himself in the shoe industry. In 1999, he debuted a value-channel line of sneakers with Starter, which eventually came under the ownership of Nike. During its heyday, around 2005, his Shaq and Dunkman brands were estimated to be about a $170 million business.
The shoe lines lost some momentum over the years as they went through a series of ownership changes, but were revived by O’Neal and brand manager Mary Gleason in 2011. The Shaq brand continues to produce sneakers for toddlers and kids through licensee ACI International, and are sold at retailers such as Shoe Carnival and Walmart for about $16 to $30.