Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar now sees the error of his ways in attempting to diminish from the legend that is The Big German.
Over a year after referring to Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki as a “one-trick pony” in an interview at George Mason University, Abdul-Jabbar was on ESPN’s “The Jump” on Wednesday and finally walked back the remarks.
“I want to make a shoutout to Dirk,” said the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, per Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Some of the statements I made about him were misconstrued to make it seem like I was trying to knock him and knock his career … Nothing could be farther from the truth.
“He helped the game evolve by stretching the court with his accurate three-point shooting,” Abdul-Jabbar continued about Nowitzki. “Anybody that can lead the league multiple times as the leading scorer is awesome … And anything that I said that made anybody think differently, they got it wrong. And I wanted him to hear that from me.”
It was an unfair assessment to make from the start about Nowitzki, one of the most complete and versatile offensive talents of his era, almost analogous to calling Abdul-Jabbar himself a one-trick pony with his famed skyhook. The 70-year-old Hall of Famer has been extremely critical in recent years of the modern generation of big men, but perhaps he has begun to see the light.
This year’s Democratic National Convention wrapped up on Thursday. Among those to speak was a basketball legend who mocked the Republican presidential nominee.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar addressed the crowd at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and wasted little time getting an applause from those on hand. After taking the stage, the NBA Hall of Famer said, “Hello everyone. I’m Michael Jordan, and I’m here with Hillary.” He followed that up with “I said that because I know that Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”
Abdul-Jabbar, of course, converted to Islam and during his speech had some harsh words for Trump for his views pertaining to Muslims. While Abdul-Jabbar certainly isn’t the only one to criticize Trump, his opening was definitely a popular one.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is about to be out nearly $1 million after he lost a lengthy battle with a famous auction house.
TMZ reports that Abdul-Jabbar has been ordered to pay $900,000 to Julien’s Auctions after a deal between the auction house and Los Angeles Lakers legend went south in 2012. Abdul-Jabbar believed the auction house was supposed to sell around 400 items for him, and he decided to physically remove the items himself in 2014 when they weren’t sold.
After that incident, Julien’s sued Kareem. They won. Here are some more details:
Julien’s sued Kareem — claiming they also made a $300k donation to his foundation as part of the deal to sell the items — but he refused to refund the money when he backed out of the sale.
The case went to arbitration … and Kareem lost.
Now, he’s been ordered to pay more than $900k in damages PLUS interest and attorney’s fees. He’s also been ordered to return all the items he took.
Darren Julien, the president and CEO of Julien’s Auctions, told TMZ it is “unfortunate” the courts had to get involved. He claims the company did everything it could to reach an agreement with Kareem before filing the lawsuit.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar lobbied to get the UCLA head coaching job two years ago that eventually went to Steve Alford. Two years later, Abdul-Jabbar is being critical of Alford’s leadership of the program that the former star center helped make great in the ’60s.
Abdul-Jabbar was a guest on SiriusXM NBA Radio’s “Off the Dribble” and expressed his disappointment with the state of the Bruins’ program.
“It was real ugly. I watched them in the playoffs,” said Abdul-Jabbar. “They don’t even know how to run the fast break. I’m not trying to sit on the sideline and throw stones at Coach Alford — he has a tough job. But people used to learn how to play the game at UCLA, and I don’t think that’s happening now. I think that that’s a real disappointment to those of us who are part of the tradition.”
I’m not trying to throw stones at Alford, but I’m going to point out everything he hasn’t done well. Someone is talking out of both sides of his mouth here, and I think it’s the 7-foot-2 guy in the room.
Look, as a Bruin alum, I wasn’t happy with the Alford hiring to begin with, so you can imagine my dissatisfaction with the program following a 22-14 season last year (lucky run to the Sweet 16 included). I agree with Kareem that the program should be in better shape and that they could do better than Alford. But some of Abdul-Jabbar’s criticism seems to be motivated by his bitterness over not being considered for the position. If he thinks he could do better or connect well with young players and recruits, he has another thing coming.
Overall, I do agree with his assessment of the team and wish they had another coach, but you better believe I don’t want it to be Kareem and his uncongenial personality.
David Zucker: That was another lucky break that we got, because Kareem himself was not the first choice for that role. We actually wrote it for Pete Rose.
Jim Abrahams: I’m not sure if Pete Rose actually accepted the role or not, or if we’d even gotten the green light from Paramount to use him. We may never have even sent him the script. I just know that we ended up having to film in August, so he was still in the middle of baseball season.
There was also a funny dispute over Abdul-Jabbar’s pay for the role. They offered him $30,000, but the center’s agent asked for $35,000 because Kareem wanted to buy a rug that cost that much.
J. Zucker: When we offered the role [of Murdock] to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, I think we offered him $30,000, and then the agent asked for $35,000 because that’s how much this rug cost that Kareem wanted to buy. It was an oriental rug—an art piece, not one to walk on, I don’t think—so our initial reaction was, “That’s got to be the best line we’ve ever heard from an agent.” It was like, “Boy, this guy’s really creative!” But then a couple of weeks later, there’s an article in Time with a picture of Kareem standing in front of the oriental rug that he’d bought for $35,000 after we’d paid him.
Isn’t that something? But that’s not all. The guys also revealed that Bruce Jenner read for the role of Ted Striker, which went to Robert Hays.
Most people feel that LeBron James choosing to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers was the right thing to do. LeBron acknowledged that he made a mistake with the way “The Decision” was handled and said he always believed he would finish his career in Cleveland. While the same fans who burned his jersey four years ago are now crying tears of joy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar doesn’t believe LeBron’s homecoming will be the fairytale ending everyone envisions.
In an essay he wrote for TIME Magazine, Abdul-Jabbar referred to Cleveland as the “betrayed spouse” and compared LeBron to a husband who leaves his wife for a younger, more attractive woman. Kareem cautioned that LeBron’s “home” has changed in his absence and is now filled with people he hurt.
To some skeptical residents, LeBron’s return to Cleveland is less that of the prodigal son’s triumphant return home than the straying husband who abandoned his longtime partner to chase a younger, hotter, firmer slice having second thoughts. Having realized he traded a deep love for a sweaty romp, he’s coming home with a bouquet of roses in one hand and a diamond bracelet in the other, begging forgiveness for his foolish mistake of lustful youth.
We’re still talking about basketball, right? That seems a bit dramatic to me. Personally, I think LeBron’s return will go as well as the Cavs play. If he wins a championship within a few years, he will be one of the most unique heroes in professional sports history. If not, he’ll be the guy who won rings but could never get it done for his home state.
Still, Abdul-Jabbar kept the romantic relationship metaphors rolling.
When LeBron left Cleveland he celebrated it as the Exodus from Egypt and enslavement, and that arrogance left a bitter taste in his fans’ mouths. It was like showing up at a party with his new girlfriend when he knew his ex would be there. Tacky. Even his return to Cleveland might have been seen as more from the heart, as he states in his essay, if it had just been announced as a fait accompli instead of the press and fans waiting in anticipation for the word to come down from the mountain inscribed on tablets.
Kareem did praise LeBron for his sincerity, but his overall point was that James won’t be going home to the “home he once knew.” While that may be true, we can’t think of a better storyline in the middle of LeBron’s career.
The Los Angeles Lakers will be entering the 2013-2014 season with plenty of unknowns. For starters, Kobe Bryant is coming off a torn Achilles’ tendon, which is one of the most serious injuries in sports. The injury occurred less than six months ago, though Kobe appears to be making tremendous progress in his rehab. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar does not believe that progress will be enough to allow Bryant to return to form.
“It’s a rebuilding year for them because Kobe has been hurting and he has a very devastating type of injury,” he said, via CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger. “I don’t think he will be able to come back as quickly and completely as he would like. It’s gonna be tough on the Lakers this year.
“When Kobe does come back, it’s gonna be a different Kobe and that will definitely effect the outcome for the Lakers long-term. … It’s gonna be a test for him this year, absolutely.”
The reality of the situation is that Kobe is 35 years old and coming off a major injury. He was going to start slowing down at some point anyway. The injury will probably accelerate that process. The Lakers also lost Dwight Howard via free agency, so they have plenty of obstacles to overcome. They’d surprise plenty of people if they emerged as a championship contender.
There was once a time when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had nice things to say about Dwight Howard, but that may have simply been a result of how happy he was to see Andrew Bynum go. Abdul-Jabbar was never fond of Bynum and his work ethic, and he was not shy about admitting it publicly. Similarly, he did not hide his feelings when addressing Howard’s departure from LA.
On Monday, Abdul-Jabbar took to Facebook to rip Howard and assure Lakers fans that the team will be fine without him.
“Dwight Howard is a perfect example of the fact that ‘potential has a shelf life,’” he wrote, via ESPNLosAngeles.com. “Laker fans should be patient and allow Mitch & company to prepare themselves to do some serious work in the free agent market.”
Howard has said he is excited to work with Hakeem Olajuwon now that he has signed with the Houston Rockets, but Abdul-Jabbar told Arash Markazi that Dwight told him the same thing and never reached out to him again. When Kareem was asked about teaching Howard the sky hook, he threw another jab at the 27-year-old center.
“At least he’d have an offensive move,” Kareem said. “He gets the ball on offense, oh my God, he doesn’t know what to do. It’s usually a turnover, people come and take the ball from him or tie his arms up. Offensively, he doesn’t get it. Hasn’t made any progress.”
Abdul-Jabbar is the second former Lakers big man to blast Howard since he announced his decision to leave LA, and I’m sure Dwight expected it. If he actually cared, he would have stayed with the Lakers.
The statue depicts Abdul-Jabbar wearing goggles and short-shorts, and it captures him doing his signature sky hook move. The statue will sit outside Staples Center alongside the statues for former Lakers greats Magic Johnson and Jerry West. Magic, West, and other Lakers legends such as Elgin Baylor, and coach Pat Riley were in attendance at the press conference on Friday where Abdul-Jabbar’s statue was unveiled.
Kareem played 14 seasons for the Lakers, helping lead the franchise to five championships. He won three MVP awards while with the team, and six total for his career (the other three were with Milwaukee). A 19-time All-Star and basketball Hall of Famer, Kareem is one of the best players in NBA history. The statue was long overdue.
In addition to the statue being unveiled, all fans in attendance for Friday’s Lakers-Suns game received a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar bobblehead doll that shows him in goggles and doing the sky hook. This is one of the sickest bobbleheads we’ve seen:
It appears that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is going to get his wish. Back in May, the Lakers legend expressed frustration with the organization for not dedicating a statue outside the Staples Center in his honor. Modest? Not exactly, but Abdul-Jabbar did lead the Lakers to five NBA championships and win six league MVP awards. Former Lakers Magic Johnson and Jerry West currently have statues outside the arena, and Kareem is reportedly next.
According to the LA Times, the Lakers are planning to unveil a statue featuring the Hall of Fame center at some point next season. Apparently they feel it will be appropriate to honor one of the best big men in team history during a season in which another potential Hall of Famer, Dwight Howard, is being added to the mix.
The problem many have is not with the statue but the way in which Kareem has handled himself. He made the following argument during an interview a few months ago.
“I don’t understand (it). It’s either an oversight or they’re taking me for granted,” Abdul-Jabbar explained. “I’m not going to try to read people’s minds, but it doesn’t make me happy. It’s definitely a slight. I feel slighted.”