The sports world was set abuzz yesterday when Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stated his displeasure with the Los Angeles Lakers franchises over what he perceived to be a lack of affection in his post-NBA career days. While Kareem has his own set of gripes with the Los Angeles Lakers, I have a few points of interest i’d like to make. Also while discussing this particular case, I want to speak on the issue of recognizing former players in a timely fashion.
1.) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s ALL-TIME leading scorer.
At 38,387 points, he’s over 2,000 points ahead of number 2 scorer, Karl Malone. He’s also 10,000 points ahead of another former laker Shaquille O’Neal, who is the highest active scorer on the list. Kobe Bryant is 11,000 points behind Abdul-Jabbar. So we can safely say that that record is safe for the foreseeable future.
#2 Kareem is a six-time NBA MVP.
Yes, he has the most Most Valuable Player Awards. One more than Jordan and Bill Russell, and I doubt any current player will have multiple reigns as MVP. Four of these awards were won while donning the purple and gold. The league has new stars every year, last year it was the rise of Kevin Durant, this year it was Derrick Rose, who brought home the MVP award. I think we can saw this is pretty safe for a while too.
#3 Kareem’s career ended over two decades ago.
I doubt the Los Angeles Lakers will make Kobe Bryant wait nearly two decades to honor him with a statue. Kareem and Magic were the predecessors to Kobe and Shaq. Kareem and Magic won five Championships together, Kobe and Shaq won 3 together, and in those championships, both members of the runs carried their weight to produce championships for the Buss family.
Now, onto the bigger issue. Sports teams seem to take former stars for granted far too often. For a team as rich with history like the Celtics and Lakers, I can’t believe that honor to the giants who built or helped to build the brand to the heights they are currently at, decades to honor them. Bill Russell is being honored FORTY years after his playing career was over. Russell helped and was the key to ELEVEN championships. The Celtics franchise has 17. Enough Said.
When Michael Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls after the first three-peat IMMEDIATELY they erected a monument outside of the United Center for “Hir Airness” and retired the number 23. Why is it that NBA teams choose to wait some absurd amount of time to honor the truly great players for their contributions to that city. NOt every good player deserves that honor, but those among the greatest in NBA History: Jordan, Russell, Kareem, Magic, Bird, Chamberlain, and West; its almost MANDATORY. Lets learn to appreciate those we “love” when they can appreciate it back.