Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers are dead set on making the playoffs, but the team took a mental break during Tuesday’s halftime to honor one of their old teammates, Shaquille O’Neal.
The Lakers retired his #34 jersey to the rafters. O’Neal won three straight championships with the franchise during his eight-season stint.
On-again, off-again, on again friend Kobe Bryant recorded a congratulatory message that played during the festivities. Bryant described O’Neal as the “most gifted physical specimen [he’d] ever seen.”
Former coach Phil Jackson also took part in the ceremony and CBS Sports reports that the crowd started chanting “We want Phil!” with Mike D’Antoni just steps away in the locker room. Bryant allegedly turned off the TV in the locker room when he found out what was going on.
The man of the hour made sure to single out one important person to thank, but it’s not who you would automatically assume.
“Since this is L.A., I’d like to thank some of my famous friends,” O’Neal said. “First I’d like to say thanks Jack Nicholson. Jack’s been sitting in that same damn seat for years, telling the referees, ‘You can’t handle the truth!’”
Watch highlights from the ceremony below: