Kareem Abdul-Jabaar finally got his long awaited and well deserved statue outside of the Staples Center. The NBA’s all time leading scorer, six-time NBA champion (five with the Lakers), six-time MVP, 10-time All-NBA first team and 19-time All-Star received an emotional ceremony last night as his likes joined Wayne Gretzky, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, Jerry West and Oscar De La Hoya in the Star Plaza at the home of the Lakers. The monumental occassion came through controversy as Kareem had publicly outed the Lakers for not erecting one sooner. Read more after the jump.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his signature skyhook were immortalized with a 16-foot, 1,500-pound bronze statue unveiled in front of Staples Center before the Lakers played the Phoenix Suns on Friday.
Former teammates and coaches Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Jerry West, Pat Riley, Michael Cooper, Norm Nixon, Kurt Rambis and A.C. Green attended the ceremony. Also in attendance were Julius Erving, Bill Walton, Bill Sharman, Louis Gossett, Jr. and Jack Nicholson.
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.”
In August, the Lakers announced Abdul-Jabbar finally would get his statue this season.
– ESPN LA
Abdul-Jabbar repaired his relationship with the Lakers and everyone had something to smile about. Check out the pictures in the gallery above.