Earlier this week the Los Angeles Lakers announced that, after many years, disgruntled former center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would finally be receiving a statue outside Staples Center. After going public with his anger at not having a statue sooner, “I don’t understand (it). It’s either an oversight or they’re taking me for granted,” Abdul-Jabbar said last year. “I’m not going to try to read people’s minds, but it doesn’t make me happy. It’s definitely a slight. I feel slighted,” Abdul-Jabbar will finally get his wish on November 16th.
Before the Lakers take on the Phoenix Suns the Buss family, presumably, and Staples Center will unveil the newly built statue. The unveiling may be a little awkward, especially if the Buss family has heard comments that Abdul-Jabbar has made in the past, like this one, “When you look at what (owner Jerry Buss) did for Earvin (Johnson) and what he did for me, big disparity there,” Abdul-Jabbar told ESPN’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning.” “I just think that it’s a mindset that’s taken over in the organization that I’m of minimal value to the organization and they’re doing other things. … They just don’t seem to want to include me in the way they have included other people.”
And then Kareem wonders why it has taken him so long to get a statue. Nevertheless the enshrinement of Kareem, that will be put along Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzky, Oscar De La Hoya, and Chick Hearn, is well deserved. Two other key dates that were also announced on Thursday by the Lakers were in regards to the retiring of Shaquille O’Neal, and Jamaal Wilkes’ jerseys. At halftime of the Lakers game against the Portland Trail Blazers on December 28th the Lakers will retire Wilkes’ No. 52 jersey. Wilkes was a member of the Lakers from 1977-1985, won four NBA titles, was named to three NBA All-Star teams, and won rookie of the year in 1974-1975. Wilkes, in April, was announced as a member of the 2012 induction class into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
As for the original Superman, Shaquille O’Neal, it was announced today that during halftime of the Lakers April 2nd game against the Dallas Mavericks Shaq would have his No. 34 jersey retired. O’Neal announced last June that he would be retiring from basketball after a dominant 19 year career, 8 of which were played with the Lakers. O’Neal will be the ninth member of the Lakers to have his jersey retired, following Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich, KareemAbdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, and Jamaal Wilkes, (who will have his jersey retired Dec. 28th).
O’Neal definitely does deserve to have his jersey retired, but the only odd thing about it being done so soon is that he is not yet in the Hall of Fame. The Lakers standard for retiring numbers is that you must be in the Hall of Fame, which O’Neal is not, although he is a shoe-in for a 1st ballot acceptance in the future. I just found it sort of odd that after so much chatter about O’Neal’s bad blood with Lakers management, and Kobe Bryant, that they would move so quickly to cement O’Neal in Lakerslore.
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