Los Angeles will reportedly soon unveil a statue of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in front of the team's home arena. Abdul-Jabbar joins Jerry West, Magic Johnson and broadcaster Chick Hearn as the only Lakers to have a statue erected in their honor. Former Kings player Wayne Gretzky and boxer Oscar De La Hoya also have statues of their own.
With Abdul-Jabbar finally being honored, Kobe Bryant will likely be the next Lakers player to get his own statue.
He might not retire for a few more years, but Bryant will almost certainly be honored by L.A., once he decides to hang up his uniform. At just 34 years old and with a few years still left in his NBA career, Bryant is already tied with Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson for being the most successful Laker of all-time. All three have won five championships with Los Angeles.
Bryant is one of the most popular Lakers in the history of the franchise. He has been the best player on the team for a decade, and is expected to have at least one more title run before he calls it quits.
Five former Lakers that had their numbers retired don't have statues, and aren't likely to get ones. Wilt Chamberlain brought a title to the franchise, but only played with them for five seasons. Elgin Baylor is one of the best players to ever wear the L.A. uniform, but he's been retired for over 40 years and doesn't have a statue.
The league's all-time scoring leader had to wait 23 years until after his retirement, and plans weren't made to honor him until he complained about not having his own statue.
"I don't understand. It's either an oversight or they're taking me for granted," Abdul-Jabbar told The Sporting News. "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."
Lakers spokesman John Black announced that Abdul-Jabbar would be the next Laker to get a statue, soon after the remarks were made.