SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Basketball Hall of Fame officials today were considering tightening security after thieves filched jerseys belonging to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Walt Frazier.
"We're certainly looking into the idea of at least putting an alarm system or a silent alarm system on the exhibit cases," said Joseph O'Brien, executive director of the Hall of Fame.
Also taken in the Sunday heist were Abdul-Jabbar's goggles. The items had been on display in adjacent sections devoted to the Lakers and New York Knicks on the second floor of the Hall of Fame. O'Brien said the cases containing the mementos were apparently jimmied open during visiting hours.
"It's probably some youngster who's very sorry now," he said. "I don't think that anyone comes into the Hall of Fame with theft in mind. I think it's a tease once they're there."
In Los Angeles, Abdul-Jabbar's spokeswoman was dismayed by the news.
"I'm extremely disturbed to hear that. I certainly hope these things are recovered because that's really a shame," said Lauren Pullman. "We went to a lot of trouble to make sure that those items made it right there. We turned down numerous charities that wanted to auction it off."
She said the jersey was one that Abdul-Jabbar wore during his last week of play before retiring last year after 20 years in the National Basketball Assn.
Abdul-Jabbar, sure to be a Hall of Famer, set more than 23 NBA records during his career, including most points, 38,387.
Frazier was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987 after a 12-year career, including 10 years with the Knicks. He scored 15,581 points in his career and was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team seven consecutive seasons, 1969 through 1975.
Frazier does color play-by-play for the Madison Square Garden Network. He was in the Caribbean today, assessing damage to his house there in a recent storm. His broadcasting agent, Sandy Montag, said the player would be upset by the news.
"I think he'd be upset that there would be someone who would want to do something like that," Montag said.
Springfield police were investigating the theft, but Officer Nate Wilson said there was nothing to report today, adding that the city has only two officers handling larceny cases because of recent budget cuts.
"We have no idea how long it's been missing. With all the groups that go through there it could be difficult," he said.
O'Brien said he hopes the thief or thieves are suffering pangs of remorse and are led to mail the items back to the museum.
"If we get them back we're not going to pursue where it came from," he said.