Of course there's back-room politicking going on to lobby for a statue, but you have to pretend, at least publicly, that it's all a wonderful surprise and an honor. But I actually commend Abdul-Jabbar for skipping all the ass- and ring-kissing and publicly shaming the Lakers. Sure, the gall it takes to feel slighted over a statue les us peer into Abdul-Jabbar's apparently massive ego, but he ain't Chris Mihm.
If you're going to honor broadcasters and players who were his contemporaries, it's kind of bizarre that you'd leave out a UCLA star, a Lakers icon, and someone so important in general to the black athlete's experience in America. And it's not as if Abdul-Jabbar's burned any bridges with the Lakers - he still helps out with coaching their bigs, including Andrew Bynum.
I don't understand (it). It's either an oversight or they're taking me for granted. 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.
This wasn't a case of a player being misquoted either. Abdul-Jabbar also released a statement through his business manager:
I am highly offended by the total lack of acknowledgement of my contribution to Laker success. I guess being the lynchpin for five world championships is not considered significant enough in terms of being part of Laker history.
The Lakers' response was a classic, coy "fuck you" encoded in PR mumbo jumbo. Abdul-Jabbar will be the next player honored, but "it could be next year, the year after or several years from now."