On this week’s episode of pissed off former professional athletes, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been a busy man lately, what with promoting his documentary, On the Shoulders of Giants, which is about the Harlem Rens and their trials and tribulations as one of, if not the, first all-black basketball teams. Rumor has it Jason Williams‘ grandfather played for them.
But Kareem has also been a wee bit upset with the Lakers because Magic Johnson has a statue outside of the Staples Center and he doesn’t. Kareem, who won 5 NBA titles with the Lakers, believes that he did as much as, if not more, than Magic in creating the modern Lakers legacy. Unfortunately for Kareem, who is also the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and 6-time MVP, the Lakers have other issues to attend to, such as retiring Shaquille O’Neal’s number before he’s even a Hall-of-Famer.
“We don’t have any specific timetable on this, but you can be assured we will retire Shaq’s jersey,” said Lakers spokesman John Black in an email on Wednesday.
All seven other Lakers players to have their number retired are members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but the team may not wait for the requisite five-year grace period before O’Neal enters the Hall as a surefire, first ballot inductee before hosting the jersey ceremony.
“We don’t have a specific policy on it,” Black wrote. “As you know, players have to wait five years to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but we could possibly do a jersey retirement ceremony for Shaq prior to that.” (ESPN)
Kareem has a history of temper issues, with various assault charges over the years, so he may not be too happy about this. He’s already pissed off at Scottie Pippen for calling Michael Jordan the greatest scorer of all-time, as he told Pippen in an open letter that Wilt Chamberlin holds that distinction:
“You obviously never saw Wilt Chamberlain play who undoubtedly was the greatest scorer this game has ever known. When did MJ ever average 50.4 points per game plus 25.7 rebounds? (Wilt in the 1962 season when blocked shot statistics were not kept). We will never accurately know how many shots Wilt blocked. Oh, by the way in 1967 and 68, Wilt was a league leader in assists. Did MJ ever score 100 points in a game? How many times did MJ score more than 60 points in a game? MJ led the league in scoring in consecutive seasons for 10 years but he did this in an NBA that eventually expanded into 30 teams vs. when Wilt played and there were only 8 teams.”
I think a fun thing to do would be to follow Kareem around for a day and tell people to ask him for his autograph, but when he gives it to them, they get upset and yell, “Hey, you’re not Robert Parish!” Better yet, the Lakers should build his statue but put him in a Clippers jersey. Because all that really matters in this life is pissing off irrelevant old people.