Staples Center Rumors
LaVar Ball, who most recently said he could beat Michael Jordan with one hand tied behind his back, on Sunday lost a shooting contest to rapper Ice Cube with the benefit of both hands untied. Side by side for 90 seconds, Ball and Ice Cube shot “4-pointers,’’ 30 feet from the basket, during an intermission at the rapper’s BIG3 event at Staples Center. Ball made one. Ice Cube made two.
He left the building at 12:26 a.m. on April 14. As the helicopter lifted off into the night sky and headed back toward his Orange County home, Bryant looked down at the arena. “I was proud of not just the game — just the 20 years,” he says today. “Flying over, I remember the day Shaq and I went and dug the shovels into the ground to build Staples Center, and now to fly over it and to see what downtown has become and to see how much we have grown, how much I have grown, how much Shaq has grown, how much the city has grown, how much my family has grown. So to fly over it one last time and to look down on it, I felt proud, man.”
Now that Shaq has a statue in front of STAPLES Center … it’s only a matter of time before Kobe Bryant gets his. But there’s one BIG question — what number will Mamba’s statue wear?! Kobe’s old teammate, Derek Fisher, has an easy solution … DOUBLE ‘EM UP! One statue for #8 and another for #24.
“The one where that crazy dummy Fred Hickman f—ed up my historical [unanimous MVP] so now Curry gets the first unanimous,” O’Neal said. “That bothers me a lot.” O’Neal, now a commentator at TNT, admitted to reporters Friday that he “definitely misses playing.” With his Hall of Fame induction complete, his No. 34 jersey hanging in the Staples Center rafters, and now his statue out front, O’Neal’s legendary status is secure. But the competitive spirit that drove him to punish Robinson and the Spurs, to prove to Abdul-Jabbar that he was a champion, and to butt heads with Bryant continues to seep through. Beneath the jokes and pranks, O’Neal still wants his due.
“I never thought I’d get a statue. There’s a lot of Lakers greats who deserve a statue,” O’Neal said. “So when they put my name in there, I thought it was awesome. I have great emotions. I want to thank the Buss family and the Lakers organization.” The statue “summed up perfectly the power that he played with,” as Fox said. With O’Neal collecting a regular-season MVP and three Finals MVPs since the Lakers acquired him as a free agent in 1996, Fisher observed “there’s really no debate on what type of things should happen” in the Lakers’ honoring O’Neal. When construction broke ground at Staples Center in 1998, Buss said O’Neal agreed to be part of the photo-op after AEG officials promised they would erect a statue for him following his NBA career.