After a fairly large controversy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is finally getting a statue outside Staples Center.
The NBA's all-time leading scorer made a bit of a fuss over the fact that Jerry West and Magic Johnson were given statues at the arena before he was. Abdul-Jabbar said:
"I am highly offended by the total lack of acknowledgment of my contribution to Laker success. I guess being the lynchpin for five world championships is not considered significant enough in terms of being part of Laker history."
Everyone is quite aware of his success, the problem is, who deserves the statues most?
Magic Johnson and Jerry West could effectively be the faces of the Lakers, and West's logo is in fact the NBA logo. Chick Hearn was given a statue out of respect for his broadcasting career with the Lakers that long outlasted Abdul-Jabbar's, although on a far different plane.
Other than that, the statues are not of basketball players, so as to recognize all the sports that take place in the arena.
It's wonderful that Abdul-Jabbar is getting a statue, but before it even goes up, his comments have almost tarnished it.
By asking for a statue, he'll never know whether he was really next in line to get one, or if he is getting it because he made such a fuss.
There's no doubt that he deserves one, after all, he played his best years on the Lakers and has worked on their coaching staff. However, Jerry West has either been a Laker or worked in the front office far longer than Abdul -Jabbar, and Magic Johnson is not only synonymous with being a Laker, he's overcome extreme hardships and has revitalized many sections of LA's community, making him a local legend.
No date for the statue's unveiling is set, but it will be interesting to see what kind of a speech Kareem makes, and to see how the proceedings go. His recognition is well deserved, it's just a shame he had to ask for it.