Former Los Angeles Lakers great Shaquille O’Neal was immortalized forever outside of the Staples Center on Friday evening as he was given a statue alongside other Lakers greats like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and broadcaster Chick Hearn.
O’Neal signed with the Lakers in 1996 and spent eight seasons with the franchise. During that span, he was named an All-Star seven times, the 1999-00 NBA MVP, and NBA Finals MVP three times as the Lakers won three straight championships from 2000-02.
Overall in 19 seasons he was named an All-Star 15 times and averaged 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
Widely known as one of the most dominant forces in NBA history, O’Neal does not believe he got the respect he deserved from the NBA MVP voters. In an interview with Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated, he compared himself to Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant in that aspect:
“LeBron [James] and myself are similar,” O’Neal told SI.com earlier this month in Atlanta. “We could be MVP every year. But [the voters] don’t give it every year and he’s already got four. [I should have won] three, easily. Kobe should have won three, too. [I should have won] the two that Steve Nash got over me. It pisses me off. [Nash] knows.”
O’Neal won just one MVP award in his career, as did Bryant. Nash won back-to-back MVP awards in 2005 and 2006, with O’Neal finishing second in 2005 when he was a member of the Miami Heat.
With 28,596 points in his career O’Neal is the seventh leading scorer in NBA history, and while he was in his prime with the Lakers, regardless of what the MVP ballots showed, he was viewed as the best player in the league as he led the Lakers to three straight championships from 2000-02.