Hey Jealousy: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Miffed He Doesn’t Have A Staples Center Statue
Magic Johnson. Jerry West. Chick Hearn. Wayne Gretzky. Oscar De La Hoya. Do you know what those names have in common? Besides that they are five people who have never been in my kitchen, they are also five larger-than-life greats who have statues erected in their honor outside the Staples Center to pay tribute to their respective contributions to the Los Angeles sports scene. And because of that, Kareem Abdul Jabbar feels slighted. And perhaps rightfully so.
Despite being a key cog in five Lakers NBA championships as well as being part of three national championship teams while at UCLA, Kareem does not have his own statue, honoring his impressive legacy. Speaking to the Sporting News, here’s what Abdul-Jabbar had to say while articulating his unhappiness with the situation:
“I don’t understand (it). It’s either an oversight or they’re taking me for granted. 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.”
In a subsequent statement passed along by his business manager, Abdul-Jabbar said: “I am highly offended by the total lack of acknowledgement of my contribution to Laker success. I guess being the lynchpin for five world championships is not considered significant enough in terms of being part of Laker history.”
He then added in an unreported message sent exclusively to the Sportress of Blogitude: “The hell I don’t! Listen kid, I’ve been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I’m out there busting my buns every night. Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.” But I should point out that I asked him for his favorite quote from Airplane!, not for his thoughts regarding the statue issue. Also, said e-mail correspondence never happened.
Now, I can certainly see his point and it shouldn’t be surprising that Abdul-Jabbar would make his feelings known, as he has never been a person afraid of being outspoken regarding issues that have significant meaning to him. But Abdul-Jabbar should be more cautious with his vitriolic comments towards the Lakers organization. He doesn’t want to come across as having a debilitating case of sour grapes. Lakers spokesman John Black, when asked by Sporting News for comment, insisted that the Lakers do plan on erecting a statue of Abdul-Jabbar in the future – it will likely be the next one commissioned – they just do not know when it will be. But they better hurry up: the Lakers obviously haven’t seen Kareem’s star-turning role in The Game of Death with Bruce Lee. That was wicked awesome.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar feels ‘slighted’ without statue at Staples Center [Sporting News]