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Kareem to Lakers: Where's My Statue?

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning Thursday (photo tweeted by Kareem)
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It feels like it's been weeks since the back-to-back champion Lakers' season fizzled to a quick and pathetic end. But the drama has only begun and it's no longer the 122-86 laugher that's temporarily tarnished the Lakers legacy -- it's disdain from above. 7-foot-2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is fed up: he can't believe the Lakers have yet to erect a statue bearing his likeness and quite frankly, neither can we.

"I don't understand (it)," the leading scorer in NBA history told the Sporting News this week. It's either an oversight or they're taking me for granted. 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."

As well he should and perhaps even Oscar de la Hoya would agree. De la Hoya was the most recent sports legend to be honored with a statue outside of Staples Center but the East L.A.-born hometown hero and world class boxer didn't have much luck inside Staples Center in 2000, when he suffered one of only six career losses (Shane Moseley took his Welterweight titles in a split decision). Statues of four other sports legends also grace the Staples grounds: Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Chick Hearn, and Wayne Gretzky.

It seems the team's oversight has been irking Kareem for a while. If his initial comments equate to "letting off some steam," the issue is now rolling into a full-on boil. Kareem is taking his case on a 360-degree multimedia tour from sports radio to the late-night talk circuit to the Twitters where he's been popping off rapid-fire tweets into Thursday morning.

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A selection of Kareem's tweets from Wednesday evening and Thursday morning elaborate on his disdain.

Wednesday:

Bill Russell is getting his statue after 40 years. Laker immortal Jerry West waited 37 years for his statue. My wait has only been 22 yrs.
Rumor has it that I will be getting a statue. A caveat for all my fans-don't hold your breath. Lakers don't care about me.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) on Twitter

The only reason I endure is because of all the support I get from Laker fans everywhere I go. Thanks to all for your appreciation.
Its not about a getting a statue because I'm over it - its about RESPECT! Lakers have given me the absolute minimum of respect. #KAJ33
This not just about a statue its about being appreciated by the people that I worked so hard for. The statue was just the last straw.
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...I don't think at this point this can be rectified as this is the first time I have ever made my feelings public. Moving on.

Thursday:

This not just about a statue its about being appreciated by the people that I worked so hard for. The statue was just the last straw.
Will be on The Colbert Report tonight and the Today Show tomorrow morning so tune in if you want more.
I think the essence of my message to employers is learn to appreciate your staff properly especially when they are high producers.

Lakers spokesman John Black responded with what could be interpreted as an insultingly vague remark:

Whenever we do the next statue of the third Los Angeles Lakers player, it (will be) Kareem—and he has been told that. Again, we didn't say when that was going to be. It could be next year, the year after, or several years from now.

See the LA Times' Lakers blog for a round up of media reactions and a follow-up Q&A with Abdul-Jabbar. More from the big man tonight on The Colbert Report and tomorrow on the Today Show -- appearances that, coincidentally or not, had already been booked to promote the DVD "On the Shoulders of Giants," co-written by Abdul-Jabbar and available next month.The Sporting News' Steve Greenberg: Kareem Feels Slighted By Lakers

Mike And Mike: Statue Worthy