Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant share heartfelt moment at statue unveiling

Associated Press

Associated Press

O'Neal joined the Lakers as a free agent from Orlando in 1996 and played in Los Angeles for eight seasons.

Shaq in bronze: Statue honoring Shaquille O' Neal installed outside the Staples Center, home of the LA Lakers.

O'Neal played for the Lakers from 1996 to 2004, leading the team to three consecutive National Basketball Association championships and winning the National Basketball Association finals MVP award each time.

The statue, which hangs 10 feet above the grounds of the Staples Center's Star Plaza, joins sculptures of fellow Laker greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Chick Hearn, as well as Oscar De La Hoya and Wayne Gretzky. Kobe called Shaq the "most dominant player [he's] ever seen", and finished his speech by telling Shaq "much love to you my brother". "Loves to tell jokes and have fun with his teammates but before tipoff something happens", Bryant shared to the audience in the public event. He's not smiling anymore.

O'Neal, for his part, said Bryant pushed him to greatness.

"I just want to say thank you". We always had respect for each other, and we were able to win three championships.

O'Neal was visibly moved by speeches from three of his six children, thanking his family for standing by him during the grinding years of his National Basketball Association career and the time it demanded he spend away from home. I appreciate you very much.