Lakers to honor three ex-players

Updated: August 30, 2012, 8:45 PM ET
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- The retired jerseys and statues in and around Staples Center will get some company next season.

The Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday announced the dates of three events next season to honor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes and Shaquille O'Neal.

On Nov. 16, before playing the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers and Staples Center will unveil a statue of Abdul-Jabbar at Star Plaza outside of Staples Center. Abdul-Jabbar's statue will join those of Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Wayne Gretzky, Oscar De La Hoya and Chick Hearn around the front of the arena.

Abdul-Jabbar's statue, or lack thereof, was a topic of controversy last season after the Hall of Fame center complained about not getting one erected in his honor.

"When you look at what (owner Jerry Buss) did for Earvin (Johnson) and what he did for me, big disparity there," Abdul-Jabbar told ESPN's "Mike & Mike in the Morning." "I just think that it's a mindset that's taken over in the organization that I'm of minimal value to the organization and they're doing other things. ... They just don't seem to want to include me in the way they have included other people."

Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA's all-time leading scorer and won six NBA championships, including five with the Lakers. He is a six-time NBA MVP, a 10-time All-NBA first-team member and a 19-time All-Star.

During halftime of the Lakers' Dec. 28 game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Lakers will retire jersey No. 52 in honor of Wilkes, who was announced as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction class of 2012 in April.

Wilkes, a member of the Lakers from 1977-85, was a four-time NBA champion, a three-time NBA All-Star and a rookie of the year.

On April 2, during halftime of the Lakers' game against the Dallas Mavericks, O'Neal will get his No. 34 retired.

O'Neal retired last June after a 19-year career. In the eight seasons he spent in Los Angeles from 1996-2004, the Lakers made the Finals four times, winning three championships, and O'Neal led the league in scoring while being named regular-season MVP in 1999-2000.

O'Neal will be the ninth player in Lakers franchise history to have his jersey retired, joining Wilt Chamberlain (No. 13), Elgin Baylor (No. 22), Gail Goodrich (No. 25), Johnson (No. 32), Abdul-Jabbar (No. 33), James Worthy (No. 42), West (No. 44) and Wilkes (No. 52).

The relationship between O'Neal and the Lakers soured before he was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004. O'Neal butted heads with Kobe Bryant and publicly demanded a lucrative extension that never was offered. Time, however, has healed those wounds.

"Shaq had a long and amazing career, with a huge impact both on and off the court," Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss said in a statement when O'Neal retired. "His contributions were significant to the entire NBA, but we specifically appreciate what he did with and what he meant to the Lakers during his eight years with us. We have three championships that we wouldn't have won without him, and we will forever be grateful for his significant contributions to those teams."

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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