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.
As J.J. Redick stared into the distance, he had to see this coming.
Redick will miss the playoffs for the first time in his 14-year career. His Pelicans were eliminated from the postseason race yesterday.
At 13 years, Redick’s playoff streak is tied for the 13th-longest in NBA history. No current player has a longer streak at any point his career. LeBron James also had a 13-year playoff streak (which was snapped last year).
Here are the longest individual postseason streaks in NBA history:
Obviously, some of Redick’s streak was out of his control. He got drafted in 2006 by the Magic, who were rising with Dwight Howard. But Redick’s competitiveness and professionalism made him a steady contributor, and he chose winning situations with the Clippers then 76ers.
But New Orleans was too flawed to make a major leap in this Western Conference.
This clears the way for Bucks wing Kyle Korver to take over the longest active playoff streak. He has played in the last 12 postseasons, and Milwaukee has already clinched a playoff berth.
Here are the longest postseason streaks that could remain active this year.
Players whose teams have already clinched a playoff berth are in blue. Players whose teams are still in the race but haven’t clinched are in gold.
Players are listed with the teams they made the postseason with during their streaks. If they haven’t reached the playoffs with their current team, that team is listed in brackets:
Another testing issue for Deandre Ayton.
This one comes at a terrible time for the Suns.
Phoenix is trying to complete a longshot run to the playoffs and playing the Thunder in a key game today. But Ayton arrived late to the arena after missing a coronavirus test yesterday.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Like many Suns, Ayton has played well in the resumption. Phoenix doesn’t have another big-man option like him, especially with Aron Baynes sidelined. The Suns started Dario Saric in a small lineup today.
Ayton arrived to the arena and is warming up on an exercise bike. He could still get into the game and make a difference.
Already locked into the 4-6 range in the Western Conference and perhaps trying to keep its top-20-protected first-round pick, Oklahoma City is playing without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel and Dennis Schroder. None of those will players will make a late entrance into the game.
Also: It’s ridiculous this wasn’t publicly disclosed sooner. The NBA continues to tout transparency while trying to draw more gambling revenue. Yet, a major lineup issue like this remains secret? That opens the door for some bettors to get inside information, which would be so damaging to the league’s integrity.
The Kings’ 2018-19 season ended with optimism.
Facing a meager over/under of 25.5 wins, Sacramento surged to 39 wins – its best record in 13 years. Under Dave Joerger, the Kings played a fast and fun style. De'Aaron Fox made historic improvements. Buddy Hield broke out. Several other young players showed promise.
Sure, the Kings missed the playoffs for a 13th straight season – matching the second-longest playoff drought in NBA history. But they were on track to end the skid soon enough.
Except, of course that’s not how it went in Sacramento.
The Kings were eliminated from the postseason chase yesterday, ensuring a 14th straight season outside the playoffs. That alone is now NBA’s the second-longest-ever postseason drought, breaking a tie with the Timberwolves (2005-17). Only the Buffalo Braves/San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers’ 15-year non-playoff streak (1977-91) is longer.
Here are the longest postseason droughts in NBA history:
The Suns could still reach 10 straight years outside the playoffs, but they’re still in the race this season.
The Kings might not be far from climbing this list, either.
Their future looks far bleaker than a year ago. Sacramento fired Joerger to hire Luke Walton, who has underwhelmed. Buddy Hield signed a lucrative contract extension then had a rough season. Fox progressed, though he didn’t make the desired leap into stardom. Other young players had ups and downs. Luka Doncic casts an even larger shadow from Dallas. The Kings’ organizational turmoil continues.
This was a feel-bad season in Sacramento, anyway. All the preceding losing only adds to the misery.
The Kings enter next season with one last chance to avoid the longest playoff drought in NBA history, and they do have a chance. But there’s only pessimism now.
Damian Lillard was making everything yesterday.
Lillard, who scored 51 points in the Trail Blazers’ win over the 76ers, even got a bucket on this wild pass off Tobias Harris.
Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good. It’s even better to be both.