On Friday November 16, 2012 the Los Angeles Lakers honored Kareem Abdul Jabbar by unveiling a bronze statue of the six time NBA Champion center outside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
The towering 16 foot bald-headed likeness of Big 33 displayed his iconic sky hook pose and sported his signature goggles and the double wristbands he always wore on his shooting hand. The Lakers also prominently positioned Kareem’s bronze likeness outside the team’s home court for future generations of purple and gold fans to admire.
The replica of Kareem honors the Hall of Fame center’s incredible NBA accomplishments and post-career contributions as special assistant to the Laker organization.
Kareem’s 7′ 2″ sculpture rises proudly next to statues honoring two other Laker basketball playing greats-Earvin Magic Johnson and Jerry West, whose smiling likenesses flank the more serious, purposed look on Jabbar’s face.
Ironically, the Lakers organization graciously commissioned the Kareem statue and generously approved its final look. However, they could have responded far differently to Kareem’s selfish, awkward, and at times, bitter rants against his former team for their failing to unveil a statue of himself sooner.
In May 2001 Jabbar jabbered to The Sporting News that the Lakers didn’t care about him, and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer even Tweeted that he felt disrespected for not having a bronze replica of his own after leading the Lakers five NBA itles.
Because of Jabbar’s well-documented, acrimonious relationship with the Lakers and their fans, Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss and his family should have commissioned a backwards facing Kareem. Such a statue would have been both fitting and consistent with the always irritated Jabbar’s longstanding reputation of turning his back on the media and fans during his 20 year career in Los Angeles.
But, the Lakers chose not to.
Lakers management also should have, unlike the bronze replicas of Johnson and West, manufactured Jabbar’s statue out of paper mache to reflect Jabbar’s brittle and easily ruffled feelings.
But, the Lakers turned the other cheek.
Lastly, the Lakers organization should have painted Kareem’s replica green instead of bronze to represent the giant center’s incredibly small thinking and surprising jealousy toward the Laker organization with regard to the statue’s delayed erection.
But, the Lakers chose to stand taller than the 7’2″ Jabbar.
The Lakers honored an incredible player whose recent attitude and behavior deserved a tiny green, paper mache replica instead of the towering 16 foot likeness of Kareem unveiled last night outside the Staples Center.
The Lakers handled this squeemish, uncomfortable situation with Jabbar with the grace, aplomb and fluidity of the retired 65 year-old’s legendary Sky Hook.
Straight Talk. No Static.
MIKE – aka Mike Raffone – thee ultimate talking head on sports!