The morning after his run-in with Denver’s Danny Schayes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said it was “a really stupid incident on my part” but added that he does not expect to be fined beyond the automatic $250 imposed by the National Basketball Assn.
After practice Wednesday morning at the Forum, General Manager Jerry West escorted Abdul-Jabbar into West’s office, where Jack W. Joyce, the NBA’s director of security, was on the telephone to ask Abdul-Jabbar for his version of the incident.
They talked about what had happened in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s 136-114 Denver victory, when Abdul-Jabbar grabbed Schayes from behind and fell to the floor on top of him. Abdul-Jabbar, who had been called for a technical foul just seconds earlier, was called for another and ejected from the game.
Joyce, who also interviewed game officials Wally Rooney, Jake O’Donnell and Lee Jones in addition to Schayes and Magic Johnson, would not reveal what Abdul-Jabbar told him.
“Let me just say he was very cooperative and quite candid,” Joyce said.
Ejections carry an automatic $250 fine. Any further fine would be the decision of Scotty Stirling, the NBA’s executive vice president, who received Joyce’s report late Wednesday afternoon.
West said he believes the incident will be treated as a minor one and expects to hear a ruling by Stirling today.
Abdul-Jabbar, who did not talk to reporters after the game Tuesday night when they wanted to hear his version, at first refused to comment Wednesday, then relented slightly.
“My version is not very important,” he said. “It hasn’t been listened to in the past. It’s useless to debate in the press or take my case before the public. I’m not going to give my version. I’ve given it for a long time.
“They can say I’m a class guy (as Schayes did after the game), but that’s a euphemism that I can take a punch and not complain about it,” Abdul-Jabbar said.
In fact, the 38-year-old Laker team captain has long complained about the physical tactics used against him, but in Abdul-Jabbar’s 16-year career, there have been only two other similar incidents.
When Abdul-Jabbar was playing with the Milwaukee Bucks, he got into a fight on the court with the Lakers’ Happy Hairston, whom Abdul-Jabbar accused of undercutting him.
In another show of temper, this time as a Laker, Abdul-Jabbar punched Milwaukee rookie Kent Benson in the face on opening night of the 1977-78 season.
“I received an elbow in the stomach, and when I retaliated, I got a $5,000 fine and the other guy got nothing,” Abdul-Jabbar said.
Laker Coach Pat Riley said that Abdul-Jabbar is continually subjected to a standard that permits defenders to get away with too much.
“It happened to Wilt and all the great centers,” Riley said. “They aren’t allowed to show their greatness. That’s a shame. What is allowed is an inordinate amount of contact to give an equality to the defense which they couldn’t get any other way.
“We complain about it, and everybody talks about it, then it’s swept under the rug by the league and forgotten in two or three days. What happens to Kareem happens every night, every time we play. And Tuesday night, it just came to a head.”