UPDATE (6:15 pm PT)- Well, if there was any remaining ambiguity about Kareem's stance regarding the statue and how he's been treated by the organization, he's managed to clear it up on his Twitter feed. Yowza! All told, it's pretty clear Kareem's anger is based in things going beyond simply not getting a statue promptly enough.
I realize Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the game's all-time leading scorer, but nonetheless it takes an awful lot of chutzpah to complain about not having a statue erected in your honor. The Lakers, he says, owe him some real estate outside Staples Center:
..."I don't understand (it). It's either an oversight or they're taking me for granted," Abdul-Jabbar told The Sporting News in a recent interview. "I'm not going to try to read people's minds, but it doesn't make me happy. It's definitely a slight. I feel slighted."
The six-time NBA MVP sounded even more offended in a statement released subsequently by his business manager.
"I am highly offended by the total lack of acknowledgment of my contribution to Laker success," Abdul-Jabbar was quoted as saying. "I guess being the lynchpin for five world championships is not considered significant enough in terms of being part of Laker history..."
I particularly like the clarification of the initial quote to TSN, removing any potential for misunderstanding. Not just regular offended, but highly! Again with the chutzpah. According to the team, Kareem will (quite deservedly) get his statue when the next opportunity to bronze a Laker rolls around, but it's not as if he has been passed over for likenesses of Cedric Ceballos and Shea Seals. The two players currently honored outside the arena are Magic Johnson and Jerry West. Unassailable as his basketball and Lakers credentials may be, stories like this undercut the work he has done over the years to create a more accessible and gracious image.
In the meantime, we're starting a campaign to recognize, if only in a small way, the contributions of Slava Medvedenko and Von Wafer, both to the team, and more important, our blog. If not a bronze commemoration at Star Plaza, maybe something in paper mache near one of the parking garages.