A lot of people are taking shots at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar after his frustration over no statute of him at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
I think those people are missing the point. This is about way more than a damn statue.
Abdul-Jabbar was never fully embraced by the media and fans alike. He was socially conscious and a political activist since the 1960s. He – along with Jim Brown, Bill Russell, and Muhammad Ali – were ostracized by potential sponsors because of that.
Abdul-Jabbar supported a boycott of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, which put him on the wrong side of many members of the media. Keep in mind that he changed his name from Lew Alcindor to “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar” after converting to Islam during that time.
He never had the cheesing smile of his former teammate Magic Johnson. He was a loner and an introvert (like yours’ truly), who didn’t care about what people thought of him. For those reasons, he was perceived as mean and aloof.
That has to be why he has been slighted by the Lakers, the media, and the NBA. It couldn’t had been his basketball career:
- The NBA’s all-time leading scorer
- 6-time NBA Champion
- 6-time NBA Most Valuable Player (most ever)
- 19-time NBA All-Star
- 10-time All-NBA First Team
- 5-time NBA All-Defensive First Team
- #33 retired by Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers
It has to be killing Abdul-Jabbar that he is not involved with the Lakers. He is not honored and taken care of in the similar manner of Johnson, Jerry West, and even James Worthy!
It also has to be killing Abdul-Jabbar that he is not involved with the Lakers nor the NBA in coaching/mentoring capacities. No one can tell me that Abdul-Jabbar cannot be a valuable asset on a team’s bench, and that’s too bad.
I think that Abdul-Jabbar is mad at the slights he received during and after his playing career. The statue brouhaha was only the straw that broke the camel’s back.