Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Relationship With the Lakers Over?
There’s speculation out there that Kareem’s rants about the Los Angeles Lakers not erecting him a statue yet may be little more than a PR ploy to hype his new movie, but according to the big fella, his relationship with the team may be irreparably damaged (despite the Lakers’ insistence that a statue is forthcoming.) From the LA Times: “You tweeted to a fan, ‘I don’t think at this point this can be rectified as this is the first time I have ever made my feelings public. Moving on.’ Why can’t it be rectified? ‘The relationship is fractured. I said I got a call from Linda Rambis saying I will definitely have a statue out there. But there’s going to be a strike or a lockout, so the Lakers are clearing the deck. I don’t expect my relationship with the team to continue beyond this point. They don’t really value my presence there like they value other people. That’s fairly obvious. I can only speculate to what that’s about, but if you look at how they’ve dealt with Magic over the years and how they’ve dealt with me, there’s a big disparity.’ How was it a big disparity? ‘During my playing career, I was essential to their success on the court so it was a different set of circumstances. They paid me well, and I thought I was valuable to them. When it got to the point where I was not a factor with what happened on the court, their need to be close to me or have me involved drastically changed. I kept to myself. I didn’t hang out with Dr. Buss. I didn’t have any animosity toward him, and I respected his space, and he more or less respected my space. But my lifestyle was my lifestyle. I focused on different things. Maybe that had affected how they dealt with me.’ … But you have said the statue matters to you, and there is some sentiment from fans who think you’re overreacting to all of this, stating that having to wait to have a statue after Chick Hearn, Magic Johnson and Jerry West isn’t a slight. Some have also said the nature in which you expressed your frustration over not having a statue sounded like sour grapes. ‘I understand that. But they had no idea on the background of my relationship with the Lakers. I thought I was gaining opportunities to coach Andrew. I did the best job I could. I got Andrew ready. I thought I was absolutely showing my value to the team and that I’d be treated better. Then all of the things I mentioned to you earlier, I didn’t get any of the perks or any of the playoff shares. They made me feel totally on the outside there. It’s a shame because those were my best professional years there as a player.’”