The Los Angeles Lakers announced plans on Thursday to immortalize three of the organization’s greatest players at various points next season.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Keith Wilkes and Shaquille O’Neal will each be honored on different dates for their tremendous career accomplishments in the purple and gold.
The Lakers plan to first fete Abdul-Jabbar prior to the Nov. 16 game against the Phoenix Suns with a statue of him at Star Plaza just outside of Staples Center. The likeness of the league’s all-time leading scorer will join those of Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Wayne Gretzky, Oscar De La Hoya and Chick Hearn around the front of the arena.
The lack of a statue honoring Abdul-Jabbar had been a topic of controversy after the Hall of Fame center complained of not having one erected in his honor.
“When you look at what (owner Jerry Buss) did for Earvin (Johnson) and what he did for me, big disparity there,” Abdul-Jabbar told ESPN’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning.” “I just think that it’s a mindset that’s taken over in the organization that I’m of minimal value to the organization and they’re doing other things. … They just don’t seem to want to include me in the way they have included other people.”
Abdul-Jabbar won six NBA championships, including five with the Lakers. He is a six-time NBA MVP, a 10-time All-NBA first-team member and a 19-time All-Star.
Wilkes, a smooth small forward who was just elected to the Hall of Fame in April, will be the next to be honored when the Lakers retire his No. 52 jersey during halftime of a Dec. 28 game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Wilkes, a member of the Lakers from 1977-85, was a four-time NBA champion, a three-time NBA All-Star and the 1975 Rookie of the Year.
O’Neal will be next when the team retires his No. 34 during halftime of an April 2 game against the Dallas Mavericks.
O’Neal retired last June after a brilliant 19-year career. In the eight seasons he spent in Los Angeles from 1996-2004, the Lakers made the Finals four times, winning three championships.
O’Neal was three-time NBA Finals MVP and a 15-time NBA All-Star.
He will become the ninth player in Lakers franchise history to have his jersey retired, joining Wilt Chamberlain (No. 13), Elgin Baylor (No. 22), Gail Goodrich (No. 25), Johnson (No. 32), Abdul-Jabbar (No. 33), James Worthy (No. 42), West (No. 44) and Wilkes (No. 52).