As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar embarks on his Rodney Dangerfield-esque odyssey to get respect and a statue outside Staples he should be sure to pack a mirror. The Cap needs to take a long hard look at his own reflection and ask himself one simple question: Am I the problem?
If you check the NBA record book it is impossible to ignore the name of Abdul-Jabbar.
When the history of hoops is written it will not be possible to tell the story of the rise of the sport of basketball without mentioning his name several hundred times.
He was the greatest recruit in the history of high school basketball.
He was the man that changed the rules of college basketball.
He was the man that altered the course of the NBA by moving from Milwaukee to Los Angeles.
Despite all of that Abdul-Jabbar has gone largely ignored.
When people dive into the topic of hoops G.O.A.T. the name of Abdul-Jabbar rarely starts the conversation.
Despite having the most unstoppable signature shot ever his iconic move gains less fan fare than Magic’s baby hook that buried Boston.
All of this cannot be coincidence.
I have never met Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I can only speak for those that have interacted with him. By most accounts Abdul-Jabbar has always felt slighted. He’s always carried a chip on his shoulder no matter how much he’s accomplished or how much love is shown to him.
After his retirement Cap was pleading with NBA teams to be welcomed as a coach. Most ignored the call. Stop and ask yourself why that happened.
He had a brief stint coaching with the Clippers and most recently was hired as a special consultant by the Lakers. His task was simply to coach Andrew Bynum on all aspects of being an NBA big man.
Nobody is saying Cap can’t coach. Bynum swore by the Hall of Fame tutelage he received. But by the Lakers severing ties and to have Kareem now complain about not being compensated for playoff bonuses says a lot.
It says that no matter how good a job he did he was never going to be allowed to be a full-time member of Phil Jackson’s staff. According to Mitch Kupchak Cap’s contract said he was never to be paid anything similar to other coaches no matter how deep a run the Lakers made during his time.
All in all this just sums up what has made Kareem such an anomaly.
By the Lakers choosing to honor Chick Hearn, Magic Johnson and Jerry West prior to giving Kareem his due you don’t have to read between the lines. The aforementioned men did more for the franchise than just play – or in the case of Chick call – the game. They all were Laker ambassadors in some capacity.
Hearn spread the gospel of hoops with his patented Chick-isms and colorful style. It just so happened that his paint brush was dipped in Purple and Gold.
Magic remains a pillar of the Los Angeles community in many capacities. His legacy extends beyond winning rings. His next endeavor could be to bring pro football back to the City of Angels.
West was a hoops mind rivaled only by the likes of Wooden. His ability to find talent and assemble championship rosters all the while being too nervous to even watch his final product from luxury on high – instead choosing to pace the tunnels of the Forum and Staples – speaks volumes of his sense of commitment.
All of these men have statues but that is because all of these men gave more back to the Lakers than what they got in return.
What exactly has Kareem done to show his respect for the Lakers? Ask not what purple and gold can do for you but instead what you can do for purple and gold.
In stark contrast to his faith Kareem endorsed beer for a paycheck. That pretty much sums up his integrity. Never mind the back story, Cap has long been a man that sees his needs above all others.
Ridicule is the burden of genius. Kareem’s perceived suffering comes amid a life of luxury brought on by hard work. Perhaps if he took the same approach in the PR department as his did on the court he wouldn’t need to champion his own cause.
I feel where Cap is coming from on this. I honestly do. It’s just too bad he can’t see past his own selfish needs.
Has Cap forgotten how many Laker fans have pondered the same issue? Is there any doubt he’ll one day be immortalized? How can a franchise as proud as the Lakers ignore one of the greatest figures in all of sports? The answer is quite easily when he’s being this petty.
Kareem, the game owes you nothing. The Lakers owe you nothing. For all you’ve done for hoops your legacy will never be forgotten. However, with these types of misgivings it becomes all the easier for historians to make your footprint a footnote.
I do hope Kareem gets his statue. I used to want it erected so we could start to showcase more of the past greats for future generations to marvel at. Now, I just want Cap to get his so he can go back to his hermit hole and leave us all alone.