Kareem calls himself an ex-Laker

kareem-sportingnews.jpgKareem Abdul-Jabbar's complicated, not always lovey-dovey relationship with the Lakers — and the basketball media and public — has taken on a whole new dimension this week. In an interview with The Sporting News, Abdul-Jabbar went public with his feelings of being "highly offended" by the way the Lakers treat the star of five of L.A.'s championship years — and the NBA's all-time leading scorer. His number 33 is up on the wall, of course, but he feels "slighted" that the team erected statues to Chick Hearn and Jerry West and has not made firm plans for a statue of him outside Staples Center. He told the L.A. Times that it goes beyond the statue to include the Lakers' handling of him as a special coach and a big pay cut. "The relationship is fractured," he says. "I don’t expect my relationship with the team to continue beyond this point." He amplified on Twitter, saying the "Lakers have given me the absolute minimum of respect" and "the status was just the las straw." So it appears there's a big breach with a major figure in L.A. basketball since Abdul-Jabbar starred for UCLA (as Lew Alcindor) in the 1960s.

Abdul-Jabbar may not be generating as much sympathy as he hoped. Sports talk dudes and columnists are ripping him — Ramona Shelburne at ESPN LA writes "this silly, sad episode over statues and hurt feelings...has left him standing only two feet tall." Then there was this devastating letter to the editor in Saturday's L.A. Times.

Kareem, don't worry, you'll get over the way the Lakers treated you in five years or so. That's about how long it took for my 10-year-old daughter to get over the way you treated her 25 years ago when she asked you for an autograph. Karma.
Meanwhile, West has joined the front office of the rival Golden State Warriors. Also: the Lakers are talking to Rick Adelman about becoming their coach.

Sports notes:

  • Also in the LAT Sports letters, journalist Ron Rapoport says people should quit moaning about Dick Ebersol leaving NBC: "Ebersol's real legacy is having destroyed the Olympic experience for a generations of Americans, perhaps the only viewers in the world who do not see the Games as they are taking place." Bill Dwyre disagrees.
  • Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, briefly a Dodger, announced that he has been diagnosed with brain tumors and requested privacy for his family. ESPN
  • Walter O'Malley's grandson owns the minor league team in Visalia and is a nice guy. LAT

Photo: The Sporting News

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