Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s statue is an overdue honor
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will finally be honored with a statue outside of Staples Center on Friday, before the Lakers host the Phoenix Suns.
It’s easy to forget just how amazing Abdul-Jabbar was as a player, especially for younger generations who never had a chance to see him in person. His devastating sky hook was one of the most unstoppable moves of all-time. It’s a wonder no one else has been able to master it.
Abdul-Jabbar won six NBA titles, five with the Lakers and one with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Magic Johnson won five titles, none without Abdul-Jabbar.
Listed at 7-foot-2, Abdul-Jabbar finished with 38,387 points, still a record. The closest active player is Kobe Bryant, with 29,695, short by 8,692 points.
In his 20 seasons, Abdul-Jabbar averaged 24.6 points on 55.9% shooting, 11.2 boards and 2.6 blocked shots. Unlike many big men to follow, he was a dependable free-throw shooter at 72.1%.
Shaquille O’Neal might have been the Lakers’ most physically imposing center, but Abdul-Jabbar was far more skilled, finishing with six NBA MVP awards and 19 All-Star appearances. He was selected to the All-NBA first team 10 times and was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.
Also, Abdul-Jabbar’s cameo in “Airplane!” trumps any of O’Neal’s forays into cinema.
The Showtime Lakers are often remembered for fastbreaks led by Johnson, but Abdul-Jabbar was in the middle of it all, since the half-court game was instrumental in every one of those titles.
Subjectively, Abdul-Jabbar is the third-best Laker of all-time behind Johnson and Bryant, ahead of O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlain and even Jerry West.
His well-deserved statue will be unveiled around 4:30 p.m. Friday.
All things Lakers, all the time.
Get all the Lakers news you need in Dan Woike's weekly newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.