SHAQUILLE O’Neal was overcome with emotions after seeing the statue of his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate and NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
The franchise honored Bryant with a 19-foot, 4,000-pound bronze statue of the legendary Laker outside of Crypto.com Arena.
It depicts the 18-time All-Star with a right index finger raised in a pose he struck after his iconic 81-point performance against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006.
Kobe’s widow Vanessa said there would be two more statues created to celebrate his husband’s memory in front of the fabled arena.
After the ceremony, O’Neal, 51, was asked about his feelings seeing the moving tribute to his former teammate during Inside the NBA.
“Man, again, beautiful statue,” the emotional Shaq said.
“[Vanessa Bryant] said he’s gonna have three statues. That’s going to be a great joy to see.”
O’Neal then reminisced about his time by Bryant’s side, which produced a historic three-peat for the Lakers between 2000-2002.
“I have a million Kobe stories,” the TNT analyst said.
“I’m glad I had the opportunity to play with him. I definitely wouldn’t have got three in a row without him.
“Of all the stuff we went through, his family was very nice to me.
“So again, I want to shout out his mom Pam and his father Joe, sisters Shaya and Bria.
“They don’t get talked about a lot so I definitely want to show my love and respect to them.
“Listen, this this day was bound to happen. I’m glad to be part of the most enigmatic, controversial, dominant one-two punch ever created, never to be duplicated.
“When you say Kobe, you say Shaq. When you say Shaq, you say Kobe.
“If I had one wish, I wish we would be talking to him right now.”
During the ceremony, Vanessa said that Kobe made a major call on how he would be immortalized in the statue outside of the Lakers’ home.
“For the record, Kobe picked the pose you’re about to see,” she said.
“So if anyone has any issues with it, tough s**t. It is what it is.”
Bryant tragically died alongside his daughter, Gianna, and seven other people in a helicopter crash in January 2020.