It appears that a rift between Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Los Angeles Lakers, the team he starred in for many years, may be growing.
Abdul-Jabbar has issues with his former team. The man who perfected the skyhook was initially upset that the Lakers organization has not erected a statue of him in front of the Staple Center, where statues for former greats Magic Johnson and Jerry West along with legendary announcer Chick Hearn already sit. Now, Abdul-Jabbar says in the Los Angeles Times he felt disrespected because the Lakers asked him to take a pay cut as a special assistant coach when the organization was paying Phil Jackson $12 million per season.
The NBA’s all-time leading scorer may have points on both issues, but it seems he is going about making them the wrong way. This isn’t best handled through the media, where things can easily get blown out of proportion.
For instance, the Lakers have said and continue to say a statue of Abdul-Jabbar is in the works. There is no set date, but his will be the next to go up. Now there is an argument to be made that when those three statues were put up to commemorate the three Lakers greats, stone likenesses should have already been up of Wilt Chamberlin and Abdul-Jabbar.
Maybe part of the reason Abdul-Jabbar doesn’t already a statue is because of his hot-and-cold relationship with the team or his aloof persona. Who knows? But it is an injustice.
The Lakers couldn’t have won any of the championships they won with Johnson without Abdul-Jabbar. It was just that Abdul-Jabbar went about his business in a much more low-key way.
As for the pay, it’s hard to argue when you don’t know exactly what the beginning figure was. Abdul-Jabbar’s primary charge was working with center Andrew Bynum and bringing him up to par, which is exactly what has occurred. It’s not like Abdul-Jabbar was singled out and asked to take a cut in pay. Jackson was asked also, which is probably why the future Hall of Fame coach is going fishing, calling it quits in his job as Lakers coach.
Contact Terrance Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org