LSU honors Shaq with 900-pound statue

Blown away, the Big Aristotle had expected something smaller.

When Shaquille O'Neal was informed that LSU would be honoring him with a statue dunking the basketball in a Tigers uniform outside the program's new practice facility, the former All-American couldn't have imagined being depicted in 900 pounds of bronze.

"I had no idea that it was that big," O'Neal told reporters Thursday. "I thought it was going to be like some little thing, but I think it's beautiful.

"I'm not just saying it because it's me, but that right there is the probably best sculpture in the country. It really is. It's fabulous."

O'Neal said he would call the statue "the Big Bronze" and that at times he thought current LSU coach Trent Johnson was joking when he kept e-mailing photos of what the sculpture would look like.

But what about Shaq wasn't big? There was his size and there was his production, as he racked up 1,941 points and 1,217 rebounds in three seasons at LSU and became national player of the year in 1991. He said the reason he came to LSU -- joking that he chose it over "B.S. colleges like Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida" -- was because of then-coach Dale Brown.

Not everyone is happy O'Neal was honored with a statue, but he did graduate from LSU, and now after retiring from basketball, he is planning to get his doctorate from the school. He said his nearly-completed dissertation is on "The Duality of Humor and Aggression in Leadership Styles."

"A lot of people don't know this, but hopefully I will graduate in December and become Dr. O'Neal," he told reporters. "I've been working on that the past four years. I didn't want to let a lot of people know until I actually became a doctor. I'm working on my dissertation now, and hopefully I pass that, and I'll be Dr. O'Neal. Unfortunately, I will no longer answer to 'Shaq.'"

No matter. With the statue, Shaq's outsized personality and legacy at LSU has been immortalized.