Last week, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and arguably the greatest big man to ever play the game, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, raised some eyebrows when he criticized the Los Angeles Lakers front office through Twitter messages, followed by a lengthy interview on ESPN Radio’s popular “Mike and Mike” show.
Years of perceived disrespect from the organization came to a head, culminating with Kareem wondering when a statue of himself would stand in front of the Staples Center.
In Kareem’s interview with Mike and Mike, Kareem felt that slights such as his taking a pay cut as an assistant coach with the Lakers and his flying in the back of the team jet, away from the rest of the coaches, were signs of disrespect.
He also indicated that his place in team history was not as important as it should be.
Abdul-Jabbar said the final straw was when he did not receive a statue in front of the Staples Center, and he wondering when he would ever be placed amongst the Laker greats. Magic Johnson, Jerry West, and legendary announcer Chick Hearn all have statues in front of the arena.
The Lakers have assured Abdul-Jabbar that he was next in line for a statue next season, and the organization said it did not understand why he launched this attack.
Abdul-Jabbar won five titles with the Lakers during the 1980s.
Abdul-Jabbar also pointed to the things that Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss has done for other Laker greats, such as giving Johnson an ownership stake in the team. When Abdul-Jabbar stated his wishes to become a head coach, he said, that the Lakers were not supportive, despite the fact that he had been a special assistant to the Lakers the past six seasons and played a huge role in the development Andrew Bynum, the Lakers’ current star center.
No one doubts that the six-time league MVP is deserving of a statue, though some may question whether he was entitled before Magic Johnson, the greatest point guard to play the game, or Jerry West, the current logo of the NBA and the general manager of those championship Laker teams of the 80s.
The Lakers are perplexed by the recent developments.
“Had we known that Kareem was going to feel slighted in any way or take it the way he has, maybe looking back on it now maybe we should have done Kareem’s before Jerry’s,” Lakers spokesman John Black is quoted as saying. “I don’t know. But like I say all three of those guys are extremely deserving…. We’ve always planned on eventually having statues of all three of them, as well as other people we’ve discussed, and it’s just a timing thing.”