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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar immortalized with statue outside of Staples Center

Nov 16, 2012, 11:01 PM EDT

NBA Hall of Famer Abdul-Jabbar smiles as he is interviewed after a bronze statue of himself was unveiled in Los Angeles Reuters

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, and he played on five championship teams as a member of the Lakers. He isn’t the first to be given a statue outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but he is the latest to receive this honor.

The statue was unveiled in a ceremony on Friday afternoon, in advance of the Lakers home game against the Phoenix Suns.

Abdul-Jabbar is a semi-controversial figure, due to his difficult personality. His on-court accomplishments are beyond reproach, but his disinterest in developing relationships off the court is likely the main reason why his statue unveiling came after those of Magic Johnson, Chick Hearn, and others.

Abdul-Jabbar acknowledged this during his ceremony, and at least on the surface seemed apologetic for calling out the Lakers organization in advance of this process. From Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles:

Abdul-Jabbar’s statue, or lack thereof, was a topic of controversy last season after the Hall of Fame center complained about not having one erected in his honor. Abdul-Jabbar referenced his comments in his speech after the unveiling when he singled out Mitch Kupchak, Jeanie Buss, Jerry Buss and AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke.

“I don’t know if you remember I had a little bit too much to say about the fact that it hadn’t happened right away and it got testy but they were patient with me,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “They understood what was going on. … About three or four years ago, Tim made me a promise that this statue would be here and sure enough, he kept his word.”

As inappropriate as it was for Abdul-Jabbar for to demand this honor through the media, it’s tough to argue that it wasn’t deserved.

All hatchets have been sufficiently buried for now, and Kareem finally has his statue.

  1. Gordon - Nov 16, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    Thou shalt not worship false idols.

  2. cornbreadbbqred - Nov 16, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    You will never see another like him. This is even more vindicating by the fact that his primary motivation was not to win popularity contests. High intelligence, basketball IQ, determination, skill, athleticism. Who else can you point to who ownes a 20 year career of productive play, hence the all time leader in scoring, one who did not just hang around. I left out a few key other attributes, dedicated student of the game who recognized that conditioning in the off season is the pre-requiste to both longevity and greatness. Andrew Bynum and Shaq, what sort of dufuses are you two not to want to soak in what he had to teach, and not have to live down the addage that hard heads make soft asses. Right Kobe?

  3. eugenesaxe - Nov 16, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    How big an ego do you have to have to whine about not having a statue?

  4. jerdogthompson - Nov 16, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    Way to divert attention from the immediate. Stay classy LA.

  5. skavenbrew - Nov 17, 2012 at 12:44 AM

    Morons. It’s Abdul-Jabbar and his Lakers honoring him. Set aside Laker hatred for just a second. He deserves this, and has since the day he retired.

  6. charlescub80 - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    About time!

  7. sunsation3413 - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Great player…yes. Nice guy outside of basketball…no. We’re supposed to bow down and be happy after all those years of being a jerk to fans? Not

  8. BigBeachBall - Nov 17, 2012 at 2:11 AM

    Giving statues to players is a bad precedent… it’s a domino effect… who’s next? Kurt Rambis?

    • albertmn - Nov 17, 2012 at 8:50 AM

      Really? If you are going to complain about statues, you think the logical jump is from the all time leading scorer to Rambis? Wouldn’t the Lakers have to put up about 75 or 100 statues before they would get to Rambis?

      Besides, why would you care if they put up a statue? You need a better argument. Maybe say why it is a bad precedent. If you are going to have a legit argument, you need to explain further.

  9. pricejustin24 - Nov 17, 2012 at 3:07 AM

    Kareem’s statue should have been there before magics.

  10. xjokerz - Nov 17, 2012 at 3:45 AM

    Lol… ” I want a statue waaaa waaaaa ” you got one now you baby

  11. ogre2010 - Nov 17, 2012 at 8:18 AM

    Jerk to fans? The same fans that called him an ape while he was at UCLA?

  12. 24thesho - Nov 17, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    Kareem’s staute should have been erected one year after he retired. What is wrong with you people? It’s a no brainer, just review his entire career from UCLA on. He played in the turbulent era of the late 1960s, against the great Wilt Chamberlain, won a championship with the great Oscar Robinson, way before Magic Johnson wasn’t even in highschool; he is one of “the” prototypical, premiere centers in the history of the game. You people need to show some more respect. This is an historic figure on so many levels. Damn! WTH?

  13. paulhargis53 - Nov 17, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    Well deserved for the 3rd best ever to play the center position.

    • mytthor - Nov 17, 2012 at 10:31 AM

      Who are you first two? Russell and Chamberlain? In that order? Not disagreeing, just curious.

  14. 24thesho - Nov 17, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    The great thing about your comment is, it’s a debatable argument that can be interchagable on any given day and no one will be wrong on any of those days.

  15. 24thesho - Nov 17, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    I’m assuming you meant Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, in that order. Right?

  16. allen227 - Nov 17, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Kinda takes away from it when you have to ask for it publicly and whine about it.

  17. badintent - Nov 17, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    Always had my statue in front of many Merrill Lynch offices. Watch out for the horns.! No bull.Had it in for the matadors from day one.

  18. lakerluver - Nov 17, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    The greatest basketball player ever.

  19. paulhargis53 - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    mytthor: You would be correct. Yes in that order. Kareem was one of my favorite players growing up, along with Dr.J and David Thompson and the Iceman and Moses Malone.

    Unlike others,(who shall remain nameless) I don’t let my bias get in the way. Russell and Wilt are head and shoulders above any other center.

  20. lakerluver - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Deadman walking.

  21. lakerluver - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Russell averaged 15 pts, 22 rebs and only shot 44% on field goals his entire career. What separates him is the fact that he has 11 rings. That doesn’t mean he’s the better player. I’d take Wilt, KAJ, Hakeem, Shaq, and Moses over Russell any day.

  22. lakerluver - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    44% when you rarely shoot outside of ten feet is telling. That says Russell wasn’t a very good scorer. He never even averaged 19 pts in a season. Perimeter players shoot 44%, not centers. KAJ’s career stats: 25 & 11, 56% fg’s. And, unlike Russell, KAJ was always doubled and triple teamed. Teams schemed on stopping him. Teams didn’t do that with Russell. Late in KAJ’s career he was still a force. His last season in the NBA he averaged 14 pts a game, which is almost Russell’s best season. Look it up. We get blinded by the rings. KAJ also played against far better competition.

    • badintent - Nov 18, 2012 at 3:20 AM

      Russell blocked half the shots the opponent took or altered them . He averaged over 20 boards a game for most of his career.He threw the rebound out so fast to start the best fast break in the history of the game until Magic came along. He was a coach of the Celtics. Jabbar never coached a team.Jabbar was a poor rebounder, especially for his size. And he was a punk, grabbing Rudy Tomjonvich’s Rocket’s team mate from behind and holding him while one of his Laker team mates punched Rudy in the face, almost killing him.He sucked punch Ken Benson in the back of the neck. I always hoped that he would have tried that crap with Willis Reed, Reed would have broke him in 2. Or 3.

  23. paulhargis53 - Nov 17, 2012 at 5:01 PM


    Why do you even try to debate NBA history? You didn’t even know anything about Jerry West, and he played for your favorite team!
    Russell wasn’t ever the 1st option on offense for the Celtics. He was the best defensive center ever to play the game( Kareem was lazy defensively). Had blocked shots been a kept stat, Russell and Wilt would have averaged triple doubles consistently.
    Your total disdain for players that played prior to you watching shows how narrow minded and stupidly biased you are.

    You said yourself that had Magic went to Boston, you’d be a Celtics fan. If you were a Celtics fan, you’d be saying Russel was the best ever. Your biased because Jabbar was a laker. With you its, Magic is the best pg, Kobe is the best sg and Kareem is the best center.

    You’re homeristic bias is enraging. You’re 38 years old dude. Why do you root for a team acting like an 8 year old?

    You know nothing about the history of the game, hell who am I kidding? You know nothing about the game today either.

    Leave it to you to just look at points and rebounds to determine how good a player is. It diesnt suprisevme, you didn’t know how great of a defensive player West was either.
    Thank you for continuing to show your incredible ignorance here on a daily basis. You make it easy for people to know they are dealing with an ingrate.

    You are so pathetically ignorant squishmitten. It’s a good thing for you that you have no shame. But I for one am totally embarrassed for you. 99% of your posts are douchtastically cringeworthy and are lacking in any merit or knowledge whatsoever.

  24. paulhargis53 - Nov 17, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    Russel was NEVER the 1st option on offense. He was/is the best defensive center in the history of the league.

    You can’t just focus on scoring/shooting %. Had they kept blocked shots as a stat, he’d have averaged a triple double for many seasons.
    It’s a fallacy to say Jabbar played against better players. You can look up his competition- they weren’t some stiffs that didn’t belong. Wilt and Russel were just that much better. Look, I like Kareem a lot. He’s just not quite there as an all around player. Yes, he’s better offensively than Russell, but Jabbar was just plain lazy on defense. At his size, its also criminal that he averaged only 11.4 rebounds for his career.
    Wilt was better offensively and defensively than Kareem. Russell defense and rebounding+his scoring> Kareems offense and non existent defense.

    Kareem is great, its between him and Moses for my favorite center, he just doesn’t measure up to the 2 titans that are Wilt and Russell.

    On a side note, if you posted like this more often, with research and stats, I wouldn’t have such a problem with you.

    Good job.

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Nov 17, 2012 at 7:52 PM

      Plus there was no exchange of ad hominem which even looked better.

  25. dysraw1 - Nov 17, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    there’s no one who deserves it more.

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