Los Angeles Lakers retire Jamaal Wilkes’ No. 52 jersey

By David Charnley


Harry How-Getty Images

At half time of the Los Angeles Lakers victory against the Portland Trailblazers former player Jamaal Wilkes saw a presentation that retired his number 52 jersey.

The smooth scorer saw his number go up on the rafters of the Staples Center with other former greats of the Lakers such as Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Kareem Abdul -Jabbar.

Wilkes was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year. The Lakers, who only retire Hall of Famers’ jerseys, formally hung his No. 52 next to Magic Johnson’s No. 32 during halftime of their game against Portland.

“I think it says a lot about the Laker tradition,” Wilkes said.

“They’ve had some awesome basketball players, and now I’m one of them. Being front and center, and now I look in the mirror, and I go, `Wow.’ It’s cool, and yet it’s emotional for me.”

Wilkes was clearly touched by his honor as the Staples Center showed their appreciation with several big ovations. Jerry West, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were all present at a packed out court to show their support for their fellow Lakers honoree.

“I’m just enjoying it,” Wilkes added.

“I think months later, it will hit me, the true significance of it all.

“I always prided myself on winning, I learned at a very young age, you can debate who the best player was or wasn’t, but you can’t debate who won or lost.

“So that’s where my priorities went, and I played with some pretty good players along the way. I like to think that they made me better, and I made them better because I was able to adapt to different situations, and I was a good influence in the locker room.”

The 59 year old Wilkes is a Californian native and won his first NBA title as a rookie whilst at Golden State Warriors before adding another three with the Lakers.

Before finishing his career with a few games with the Los Angeles Clippers the 6-foot-6 forward scored 14,664 points.

The Lakers hadn’t retired a number since Gail Goodrich’s No. 25 went on the wall in 1996, but they aren’t done for the season: Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 34 goes up April 2.

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