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Jamaal Wilkes thrilled to join ranks of these retirees

Lakers FYI

Jamaal Wilkes, who played on three NBA title teams in the '80s, becomes the eighth Laker to have his jersey number (52) retired and hung on Staples Center wall.

December 28, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times
  • Jamaal Wilkes is honored in a ceremony retiring his jersey during halftime.
Jamaal Wilkes is honored in a ceremony retiring his jersey during halftime. (Harry How / Getty Images )

Jamaal Wilkes was finally inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame a few months ago. It took only 27 years.

The Lakers followed it up by retiring his jersey number Friday at Staples Center.

The smooth-shooting small forward became the first Lakers player since 1996 to have his number retired.

He wore No. 52 and joined seven other Lakers players on the Staples Center wall: Wilt Chamberlain (13), Elgin Baylor (22), Gail Goodrich (25), Magic Johnson (32), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33), Jerry West (44) and James Worthy (42).

"I'm very emotional right now. I'm glad it happened while I'm still alive," Wilkes said before the halftime ceremony at the Lakers' game against Portland.

Wilkes, 59, had an unorthodox shooting style, wrapping the ball briefly behind his head, but it worked. The Lakers liked him enough at Golden State to sign him as a free agent in 1978, even though it cost them a first-round pick and an undisclosed amount of cash.

He played eight seasons with the Lakers, his best coming in 1980-81, when he averaged 22.6 points and 5.4 rebounds.

His numbers weren't overly flashy. Wilkes didn't care. He was part of three Lakers championships.

"I prided myself on winning," said Wilkes, who won two NCAA titles at UCLA, when he was known as Keith Wilkes. "I learned at a very young age you can debate who the best player was or wasn't, but you can't debate who won or lost."

Howard flagrant tracker

Thanks to his ejection Wednesday in Denver, Dwight Howard now has three flagrant-foul "points" under the NBA system that affixes two points for a more severe flagrant foul and one for a less harsh flagrant.

If a player reaches six flagrant-foul points, he is suspended for a game.

"I really didn't know I had three. Oh, wow," Howard said. "I guess I've got to foul softer."

Howard was assessed a flagrant foul 2 after decking Kenneth Faried as the Denver forward drove to the basket Wednesday. Howard was also fined $35,000 by the NBA.

Another Gasol injury

Pau Gasol played against Portland after being diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He had 15 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes.

He also made a three-pointer for the third consecutive game, the longest streak in his 12-year career.

An MRI exam Thursday confirmed the swelling on the underside of his foot.

"So far we've been managing the pain," Gasol said. "It hurts mostly in the mornings but it's still bothersome the rest of the day."

Gasol's foot had irritated him for a while, he said, and was aggravated during the loss to Denver on Wednesday.

"I stepped on the guy who tripped me and didn't get the call, as usual," Gasol said jokingly. "I think it was [Kosta] Koufos. Those two free throws would have been good."

Gasol missed eight games this month because of tendinitis in his knees but said Friday they didn't bother him as often.

Blake getting closer

Steve Blake hopes to return in three weeks after having abdominal surgery earlier this month.

"I still haven't had a chance to play in this system with a new coach. I've just been sitting on the sidelines watching," he said. "Unfortunately you get used to it a little bit until you can finally get out there."

He is running on a treadmill but can't do anything involving sharp cuts or quick movement until next week "if things keep progressing," he said. He plans on a return "somewhere mid-to-late January."

He was averaging 5.1 points and 3.4 assists in 26 minutes.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.

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