The Los Angeles Lakers have among the richest collection of superstars in professional sports.
Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Magic Johnson are just three superstar players who were drafted by the Lakers and retired with the team.
Certainly, no list of Lakers' superstars would be complete without naming Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The NBA's all-time leading scorer has been a major figure in the Lakers' history and success.
Abdul-Jabbar has always been a very quiet superstar, and one that shied away from the media spotlight. He rarely made an effort to be friendly with other coaches, players, and media, so much so that his demeanor was sometimes interpreted as standoffish.
That's why this week's comments from Abdul-Jabbar about not having a statue outside Staples Center are so out of character.
Here's Abdul-Jabbar's gripe with not having a statue:
I don't understand (it). It's either an oversight or they're taking me for granted, Abdul-Jabbar told The Sporting News in a recent interview. 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. I am highly offended by the total lack of acknowledgement of my contribution to Laker success, Abdul-Jabbar was quoted as saying. I guess being the linchpin for five world championships is not considered significant enough in terms of being part of Laker history.
The Lakers only have three statues dedicated to public figures within the organization: long-time broadcaster Chick Hearn, West, and Johnson. All three have provided invaluable service to the Lakers.
The Lakers have said they had planned to erect a statue of Abdul-Jabbar. But if Cap feels slighted, how should Elgin Baylor feel?
Baylor forever changed the small forward position, and was among the most storied scorers in history. Baylor was a general manager for the Clippers, a team that shares Staples Center with the Lakers.
Asking for a statue, and suggesting that he has been disrespected by an organization that has a long list of stars, is not exactly going to earn the 64-year-old more appreciation. It comes off as bitter, and selfish.
In Abdul-Jabbar's final season, he received a retirement tour, as he went from arena to arena receiving high-priced gifts and standing ovations.
Not even Michael Jordan received such treatment, and many knew that he would retire in his second season with the Washington Wizards, so it wasn't as if Jordan's retirement was anticipated.
So it's not as though Abdul-Jabbar wasn't recognized for his contribution to the game.
Abdul-Jabbar's number was retired by the Lakers, and he serves as a special assistant for the team. The Lakers weren't exactly shunning him.
Perhaps part of the reason for his sudden problem with the team has to do with the search for a new head coach, and the fact that he took a pay cut from the Lakers as a special assistant, where he has mentored young center Andrew Bynum.
Abdul-Jabbar hasn't been mentioned as a successor to Phil Jackson, and it's possible that he may not fit into the plans of the organization should Bynum be traded to Orlando for Dwight Howard -- a trade rumor that has increased in recent weeks since the Lakers were eliminated in the Western Conference Semi-finals.
Whether that's the case or not shouldn't have anything to do with asking for more respect from the organization.
The Lakers have a reputation of taking care of their former players. The Lakers even issued a statement explaining that they don't put up statues every year, and have only been at Staples Centers for 11 years. The next statue will be of Abdul-Jabbar, though no timetable has been set.
Abdul-Jabbar can perhaps take a lesson from his former teammate Magic Johnson, who said that Abdul-Jabbar deserved a statue before him.
Humility is sometimes the best way to be appreciated.