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Nine-Foot Shaq Statue To Be Unveiled Amid Festivities At Staples Center On Friday

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On this hallowed Friday, a bronze statue of Lakers legend and NBA Hall of Fame inductee Shaquille O’Neal will be unveiled at Staples Center.

The nine-foot 1,200-pound sculpture was created by artists Julie Rotblatt Amrany and Omri Amrany, a married couple who do, in fact, specialize in statues of sports figures, according to the person who answered the phone at the Amranys' Illinois studio.

The Amranys met studying sculpture in Italy in 1985. At the time, they were still working primarily in marble and learning about bronze. In 1994, they were commissioned by the Chicago Bulls to create a 16-foot statue of Michael Jordan, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Athlete, musician and actor Shaquille "Shaq" O’Neal joined the Lakers in 1996, and was one of the most dominant players in NBA history. As the LA Times put it, "To say he built Staples Center is only hyperbole in the literal sense."

It took the Amranys approximately a year to complete the statue. "We worked with computer increments that allow us to go detail by detail [to create the likeness] and then approved it with his team, which took a while because we weren't sure what kind of expression they would want [the statue to have]," Omri Amrany told LAist. "That took several months. When they were pleased with it, then we got the clearance to go into the casting process." The final statue shows Shaq in "that classic post-dunk pose, his legs and arms bent a bit as he hangs from the rim," according to NBA.com.

The statue was cast in bronze at a foundry in Kalamazoo, Michigan before being brought to Los Angeles on a tractor trailer, according to Amrany. “It’s a very surreal moment,” O’Neal told the Times. Kobe Bryant, former coach Phil Jackson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will all be on hand at today's unveiling, according to CBS 2. The official ceremony will begin at 4 p.m., and the grand unveiling is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m.

Here is a semi-terrifying video of the statue being installed:

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If you would like to join in on the festivities (Kobe will also be there!), head on over to L.A. today between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. for interactive games, photo ops, "and more." Shaqtown will be located on Chick Hearn Court and Microsoft Square (yes, that's a real place).