The Los Angeles Lakers plan to unveil a state featuring Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at some point this coming season, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
A firm date for the honor has yet to be finalized.
Abdul-Jabbar remains the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points. He won five of his NBA titles and three of his six league MVP trophies while with the Lakers. His prolific scoring and mastery of his famed skyhook have led many to call him the best center of all time.
The Lakers have previously said they planned to unveil a statue of Abdul-Jabbar at some point, but only after first honoring Magic Johnson, Chick Hearn and Jerry West on Star Plaza at Staples Center.
Abdul-Jabbar took the delay as a slight and criticized the team last year, saying its failure to do so sooner was a show of disrespect. He also bemoaned the fact the team did not award him any playoff shares and singled out his reduced role and pay as a special assistant coach for Andrew Bynum from 2005 to 2009. Abdul-Jabbar also mentioned how he often had to sit on the back of the plane during team trips.
The Lakers have defended their timing, explaining that there is no set criteria for determining the order of statue inductions and that the other statutes associated with the team also have extensive resumes behind them.
AEG, which owns Staple Center, plays a larger role in determining who is honored with a statue at the downtown venue and when it is done.
The team attributed Abdul-Jabbar’s reduced pay to Bynum’s belief that he didn’t need as much personal instruction.
Lakers head coaches, they also noted, have the authority to hire their own assistants, while the players are allowed to allocate their playoff shares as they see fit.
In an interview with the Times last year, Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss indicated that honoring Abdul-Jabbar with a statue would be a “natural fit.”