Let’s get this part out of the way first: Yes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar should have a statue out in front of Staples Center. Nobody who knows the game is disputing that or his place in Lakers or NBA history — including the Lakers, who have told Abdul-Jabbar his statue would be next (but there was no timetable).
So why did his frustration bubble over now, leading him to twitter to say he felt slighted that the Lakers franchise does not care about him?
Did you know his movie — “On the Shoulders of Giants” about the Harlem Renaissance basketball team of the 1930s — that he has been tirelessly promoting the last several months is hitting Netflix this week? If you stream Netflix you can do that on Friday.
I think Abdul-Jabbar is too intelligent for that to be a coincidence.
He has generated a mass of publicity the last couple days because of this stance, had more people googling his name than have in a long time. He never mentioned the movie, this hasn’t been crass, but he knows raising his profile raises the movie’s profile. It’s not an accident.
We can debate the merits of how he feels he was treated by the Lakers and basketball if you want. He’s spent his life proud of being an outsider but now is complaining about being on the outside. But, to be fair, he should have a bronze statue of him releasing his legendary Sky Hook in Star Plaza. Next to Magic and West and Chick (all of whom deserved to be in front of Kareem in the statue line).
So yes, Kareem is frustrated and he does deserve a statue. But know there is other motive for making a public stink about it right now.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.