Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is arguably one of the greatest Lakers to ever where the Purple and Gold. He’s in the Hall of Fame, won 5 Championships with the Lakers and he’s still the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
Magic Johnson has a statue in front of Staples Center, Jerry West does as well and you can guarantee that Kobe Bryant will have one once he retires. But Kareem… yeah nothing. Kareem noticed this as well and took to Twitter (check a few of those at the end) to air out the Lakers and followed that up with an appearance on the Mike and Mike show to go more in detail about his issues with the Lakers organization.
“For example, I had to take a cut in salary. At the same time they tell me I had to take a cut in salary they’re paying the [head] coach $10-12 million a year. You wonder how much you count when they tell you stuff like that. We were flying on a plane back from Orlando two years ago [after the NBA Finals] and they put me in a tiny little seat that I couldn’t be comfortable in and there were empty seats up there where coaches sat which is where I usually flew with the team. It was little things like that. Just little things that started to wear on me and make me feel like I wasn’t appreciated and I certainly wasn’t being treated like family.”
Kareem admits that he’s never spoken with anyone in the Buss family or Lakers organization about his grievance.
“My tendency is to grin and bear it because I figured there must be something happening that I don’t understand and this is being done out of necessity,” he said. “Once I get the idea that that wasn’t the case and it wasn’t, I figured maybe it was time for me to speak out. I’ve never been this vocal about anything. I’ve always tried to stay out of the fray and not be an object of controversy. It doesn’t suit me, but something needed to be said.”
Kareem also has an issue with the way the Lakers organization has dealt with him as opposed to Magic since he retired:
“When you look at what [Buss] did for Earvin and what he did for me, big disparity there,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “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.”
Allegedly, Kareem’s statue will be next but he’s also indicated that he’s not really interested in the statue, it’s more the principle in this instance. He indicates that the situation can be mended from his end.
I don’t know if this was the best way to go about handling his issues with the organization. Perhaps it was spurred by the fact that Phil is retiring and Kareem wanted to at least be considered for the position. Who knows, I’m sure it will be resolved but one has to wonder if Kareem has done more damage to his image than the Lakers by taking this route.
To follow Kareem on Twitter @KAJ33