Shaquille O’Neal says LeBron James deserves statue from Lakers

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read

In the opinion of Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James is deserving of a statue in front of Arena.

O’Neal, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, played for the Lakers from 1996 to 2004. During that span of time, the Lakers captured three consecutive NBA titles and also won an additional Western Conference championship.

James has been with the Lakers since signing as a free agent in 2018. In James’ five seasons with the team, the Lakers have won one NBA title and reached this year’s Western Conference Finals.

The 19-time All-Star also achieved a hallowed record during the past season by becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. The player he supplanted, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, is also a Lakers legend who has a statue outside the team’s arena.

O’Neal’s reference to the expected reasons why James might not be worthy of such an honor stems from the latter’s relatively short time with the Lakers.

The first 15 seasons of James’ legendary career were spent with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat. Like he’s done with the Lakers, James led those franchises to NBA championships, with his time with the Heat resulting in consecutive titles in 2012 and 2013.

Discounting James’ role in the 2020 Lakers title stems from the extraordinary nature of those playoffs that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the NBA shut down play in March 2020, the league didn’t resume until July of that year. Due to the pandemic, all of the games were played under a restricted setting in Orlando, Fla.

How much those circumstances played a role in the Lakers’ run to the title is open to debate. Due to the absence of fans in attendance, any home-court advantage was negated.

In the Lakers’ case, they had the best record in the Western Conference. In a normal situation, they would have had home-court advantage during their six-game series in the Finals against the Heat.

Regardless of the setting during that postseason, James was the driving force in that title run, helping capture the Lakers’ first championship in a decade.

James’ iconic career is yet another reason why immortalizing him with a statue makes sense. Right now, despite some cryptic comments about possible retirement last month, James is likely to put any potential statue talk on hold as he continues his time in the NBA.

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Brad is a freelance writer for, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.