The Lakers have had a lot of great players step on the basketball court in their history. Only two have been captured in bronze outside of the Staples Center. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, was not one of them until Friday night (11/16). Staples Center unveiled a nearly 16-foot-tall statue immortalizing Jabbar’s famed hook shot, alongside statues of fellow Lakers greats Magic Johnson and Jerry West, for future generations of basketball fans.
The 65-year-old Abdul-Jabbar pronounced himself humbled and grateful during a ceremony attended by numerous NBA greats ranging from Johnson and West to Pat Riley and Elgin Baylor – and even Lakers superfan Jack Nicholson.
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”Having lived my life and had the experiences I’ve had, I can understand now what a man like Lou Gehrig means when he considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” Abdul-Jabbar said.
Abdul-Jabbar is depicted in his signature goggles, wristbands and the standard 1980s short-shorts below his No. 33 jersey. The 7-foot-2 center pulled a braided cord to drop a curtain revealing the statue to hundreds of cheering fans, who gathered under threatening clouds for the ceremony. ”I’m glad we got here before the pigeons got to it,” Abdul-Jabbar said with a smile.
By any measure, Abdul-Jabbar is among the most significant figures in basketball history. He spent two decades in the league with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Lakers, winning a record six MVP awards while setting records at the time for games played, total minutes, field goals, blocked shots, defensive rebounds and fouls. It’s about time.