This past week, the Los Angeles Lakers unveiled their new acquisition for the Staples Center, a HUGE bronze statue featuring Shaquille O’Neal dunking the ball from his Laker tenure, being one of the most beloved and successful players to ever wear the purple and gold and one of those few elite guys that has his shirt hanging in the rafters of Staples.
Shaq was a complete force through his entire career, but his stint at California was definitely his prime, becoming the most dominant center in NBA History and winning three rings alongside Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson, creating a huge legacy and making fans from all over the world fall in love with the game.
This kind of things where teams build statues of their greatest players is getting more and more common every year now, so we’ll take a look at the top 5 guys that are definitely going to have a statue of them outside of their home arena when they decide to retire after all they’ve given to their franchises and their fans.
Dwyane Wade - Miami Heat
Even if he had a lot of help from LeBron James and Chris Bosh (and of course, Ray Allen); “The Flash” is arguably the best player to ever play for the Miami Heat, and he was the face of the franchise through all his career there despite not being the highest paid player on Pat Riley’s squad.
On top of that, he’s (alongside Udonis Haslem) the only player to be present in the Heat’s three championships, and he was a key factor in every single one of those teams thanks to his fierce attitude, his scoring ability, his athleticism, his ability to draw contact and of course his great defense.
We all know Wade’s tenure as a member of the Miami Heat ended in a very harsh way, but even if his relationship with Riley isn’t at it's best right now, we all know that Wade deserves and will get his figure immortalized outside of the American Airlines Arena.
LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers
There’s absolutely no doubt that King James is the best player to ever suit up as a Cavalier ever since the day that he was drafted, starting a huge legacy and even single handed taking his team to the NBA Finals before eventually leaving to the Miami Heat to pursue his dream of becoming an NBA Champion.
So, even if the fans didn’t like that move and hundreds of them wound up even burning their shirts, the King’s homecoming gave them the chance to go back to the Finals and even fulfill his promise of giving the city of Cleveland an NBA Championship.
Of course, the King could also have his statue outside of the AAA, but if Dan Gilbert doesn’t make him a statue, he’ll be immortalized as one of the sports’ biggest douchebags in history, and that isn’t up for debate.
Dirk Nowitzki - Dallas Mavericks
This one is a total no-brainer, as we can all imagine a huge bronze statue of Dirk doing his beautiful one-legged fadeaway shot, a signature move that has been copied by hundreds of NBA players and prospects and that will make everybody remember him as one of the league's’ greatest scorers ever.
Dirk recently became one of the few guys in NBA history to surpass the 30-thousand point milestone, being also one of the league leading rebounders in history, something very impressive considering the guy can barely jump.
On top of that, the 38-year-old gave the Mavericks an NBA championship, he’s been to 12 All-Star Games and was an NBA MVP and NBA Finals MVP and he also... Wait? Do I actually have to remind you who the hell Dirk Nowitzki is? Moving on.
Stephen Curry - Golden State Warriors
Steph has been unfairly and harshly criticized since the Golden State Warriors blew a 3 to 1 lead in the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they tend to forget how freakily impressive the point guard was over the last few years, completely demolishing his own offensive records and even becoming a unanimous MVP.
Curry’s arguably the best three-point shooter in NBA history, and even if his defense is just never going to be more than mediocre, his handles, ability and shot ability are something that we’re not going to easily find elsewhere.
He was the best player on a Golden State team that was a complete bulldozer and had almost no serious opposition on their way to their first NBA ring in 40 years for a long time forgotten franchise, and he should definitely be rewarded as such with his figure immortalized outside of the new arena the Golden State Warriors are building.
Kyrie Irving - Cleveland Cavaliers
(Statue - Clutch Shot Over Stephen Curry)
Of course, LeBron James steals most of the headlines, but Uncle Drew shouldn’t be left behind in the statue matter outside of the Quickens Loans Arena, as it was his clutch shot over Steph Curry that wound up sealing the Cavs victory over the Golden State Warriors in last year's NBA Finals.
Irving wasn’t very successful before LeBron and Kevin Love’s arrival, although his offensive numbers have always been great, even despite being more of a short shooting guard than a pure point guard. But we have to remember the fact that he had already committed to staying in “The Land” for the long term and try to compete before LeBron’s homecoming.
And now, considering how successful his career has been on a personal level at the tender age of 25, and winning an Olympic medal, being an NBA champion, World Champion, a 3 time All-Star and one-time All-Star MVP, it’s pretty safe to say that Kyrie’s going to have his statue sooner than later.