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Lakers Will Retire Two Legends’ Numbers; The NBA Goes To Africa

The Lakers confirmed Thursday what we knew for a while, that they’re building the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar statue. After publicly testifying how upset he was last year that he didn’t have his honor, he must be smug knowing on the same day the Lakers announced the move, he had a little bit of his spotlight stolen. The team’s also going to retire the jerseys of Shaq (No. 34) and Jamaal Wilkes (No. 52) on Nov. 16, the same day his bronzed likeness is unveiled. Please Shaq, just one more time, can we get a “Can youuuu dig it?” For that matter, when will a statue of Mark Madsen‘s championship dance go up outside Staples? Maybe it can be just a temporary installation. … College basketball and football could see major changes to its lifeblood, recruiting, if changes go through that the NCAA prefers. The NCAA wants to deregulate, you see, having looked at its well-intentioned rulebook and realizing it’s insane to try to police the minute details. For recruiting much of the violations are about whom on staff can make a call to a recruit. (It was only a couple months ago, in a great move, they also deregulated the types of allowable contact to make it actually make sense. To keep up with technology, they basically said, you can go through Facebook, Twitter, texting, calls, all of it unlimited. That was a huge, good change, instead of counting the texts and self-reporting if schools were one over. But we digress.) The rules of whom can talk to recruits could be loosened as the proposed rule would allow non-coaches to now recruit, which means directors of operations around the country actually have some teeth to go with their jobs. We’ve read it likened to creating a GM job in college. But it matters most not because of what one person could be doing differently, but because if it isn’t limited, the schools with the most resources in the hoops world could presumably hire a huge staff expressly for recruiting with their resources while a mid-major would be stuck. It’s another well-intentioned rule to deregulate that instead could beget more legislation, such as putting a cap on how many non-coaching jobs a team can have. Even though it needs tweaking, it’s a change worth happening. … The Bobcats are reportedly interested in Josh Howard and worked out the Wake Forest alum this week, per the Charlotte Observer. … Martell Webster signed with the Wizards today. What do you make of that move? He and C.J. Miles are both trying to convince themselves they’re ready to get at that untapped potential they showed when they were 18. Eight years into a career where we’re not sure he can be depended on even as sixth man. … Hit the jump to read about an OKC trip to Africa. …

The Basketball Without Borders group sent its delegation abroad this week, but it might as well have been Thunder Without Borders. Four of the seven guys who went to Johannesburg, South Africa, play for OKC: Nick Collison, Thabo Sefolosha, Cole Aldrich and Serge Ibaka. Luol Deng, Luc Mbah a Moute and C.J. Watson also made the trip. Ibaka stopped in his Republic of Congo hometown of Brazzaville for a week before. If you’re playing along a lot of the guys with direct African ties made that trip, with Sefolosha’s dad a native South African, a Moute being from Cameroon and Deng from Sudan. Have Deng and Ibaka, both players in the Olympics, too, had a minute of free time this year that hasn’t been on a plane? … The AP’s report of the trip also mentioned Aldrich taking in a safari. We imagine his head just kind of stuck out of the top of the Jeep. … We can’t believe this is considered news. Kris Humphries, you dug yourself into this hole but we just didn’t know it went this deep. At least maybe this season, one year removed from the Wedding Of The Century, he won’t be called the NBA’s most disliked player. What a consolation prize. … Get ready for an hour of Pacers navy blue and yellow, threes, choke signs and Spike Lee feuds when NBA TV’s 60-minute special of Reggie Miller debuts Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. The special comes before his induction into the Hall of Fame three days later. If you’re a Miller hater, “Looking Back At Reggie” is but one of more than 150 hours of Hall of Fame coverage this week on the channel. Then again Knicks fans might want to stay away before the show, too, because Game 5 of the ’94 Eastern Conference Finals is being replayed right before the special. … The 16 D-League teams kick off the 12th season on Nov. 23, it was announced Thursday, when the Canton Charge hosts the Maine Red Claws. Thirty D-League games are going to be shown on NBA TV this year, mostly coming on Sunday nights during the regular season. Bet you didn’t know the Austin Toros are the reigning league champs. They’ll kick off Nov. 28. … We’re out like Andy Roddick.

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