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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's statue is an overdue honor

November 16, 2012|By Eric Pincus
  • Hall-of-Famers (from left) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy share a laugh during a ceremony to unveil a statue in honor of the Lakers center.
Hall-of-Famers (from left) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will finally be honored with a statue outside of Staples Center on Friday, before the Lakers host the Phoenix Suns.

It's easy to forget just how amazing Abdul-Jabbar was as a player, especially for younger generations who never had a chance to see him in person. His devastating sky hook was one of the most unstoppable moves of all-time. It's a wonder no one else has been able to master it.

Abdul-Jabbar won six NBA titles, five with the Lakers and one with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Magic Johnson won five titles, none without Abdul-Jabbar.

Listed at 7-foot-2, Abdul-Jabbar finished with 38,387 points, still a record.  The closest active player is Kobe Bryant, with 29,695, short by 8,692 points.

In his 20 seasons, Abdul-Jabbar averaged 24.6 points on 55.9% shooting, 11.2 boards and 2.6 blocked shots. Unlike many big men to follow, he was a dependable free-throw shooter at 72.1%.

Shaquille O'Neal might have been the Lakers' most physically imposing center, but Abdul-Jabbar was far more skilled, finishing with six NBA MVP awards and 19 All-Star appearances.  He was selected to the All-NBA first team 10 times and was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

Also, Abdul-Jabbar's cameo in "Airplane!" trumps any of O'Neal's forays into cinema.

The Showtime Lakers are often remembered for fastbreaks led by Johnson, but Abdul-Jabbar was in the middle of it all, since the half-court game was instrumental in every one of those titles.

Subjectively, Abdul-Jabbar is the third-best Laker of all-time behind Johnson and Bryant, ahead of O'Neal, Wilt Chamberlain and even Jerry West.

His well-deserved statue will be unveiled around 4:30 p.m. Friday.

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You can email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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