Abdul-Jabbar Honored, Statue Unveiled
Published by Trevor Wong on November 17, 2012 12:27 pm
Former broadcaster Eddie Doucett, who long served as the radio play-by-play announcer for the Milwaukee Bucks, recalled when he coined Abdul-Jabbar’s shot.
“This guy created a masterpiece,” he said. “I was just there to give it a name.”
Now, that shot, his patented sky-hook, will forever be etched into bronze with the unveiling of his statue outside STAPLES Center on Friday afternoon.
“I can understand now what a man like Lou Gehrig means when he considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth,’’ Abdul-Jabbar said. “When you’re fortunate enough to be honored in this way, it’s a very humbling experience.”
A former No. 1 overall pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969, Abdul-Jabbar won his first title along Oscar Robertson during his second campaign in the league. He was traded to the Lakers in 1975, winning the first of his titles with the team in 1979, the beginning of an era coined “Showtime,” and the start of a dynasty, when the purple and gold captured five of the next nine NBA championships.
Yet when reflecting on his storied career in the league during the unveiling of his statue, the 7-foot-2 center noted of something far more significant than his accomplishments on the hardwood.
“(My business manager) convinced me even though I was successful, I needed to turn that success into something else,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “And that was more than being just a great athlete.”
The New York native now serves as a cultural ambassador, has written several books on various historical subjects, appeared in documentary films and even started his own Skyhook Foundation – a program focused on “raising the academic aspirations of students by connecting them with mentors who are equipped to motivate and engage under-served youth to reach their potential.”
Those close to Abdul-Jabbar realized the impact he had and has as a person and as a model for today’s youth.
“I define a leader as somebody who stands up for justice and doesn’t block its path,” Richard Lapchick, a human rights activist, said, “and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been doing that since he was a young man when I first met him.”
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton echoed similar sentiments in a congratulatory video.
“To those of us, certainly including me, who have had the privilege watching you both on and off the court, you have been a real symbol of strength and an exemplary model for our children,” he said.
Those in attendance included former teammates and Lakers including Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Jerry West, who all reflected on him as a teammate.
“You taught us how to be a man and be professional,” Johnson said of Abdul-Jabbar. “You didn’t have to say any words. We saw you and we wanted to be like you.”
“Kareem was the most selfless super player that I’ve ever seen in my life,’’ West added.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Statue Unveiled at STAPLES Center on Friday, November 16, 2012
Public is Invited to Ceremony Featuring Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jerry West, James Worthy, Pat Riley, Richard Lapchik, Eddie Doucette and Others to Honor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Prior to Unveiling STAPLES Center’s Newest Statue
The unveiling of a nearly 16’ tall, 1,500 lb. bronze statue of legendary Los Angeles Lakers and NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Star Plaza at STAPLES Center.
Video courtesy of STAPLES Center / YouTube Channel
The statue, created by renowned sculptors/artists Julie Rotblatt Amrany and Omri Amrany, will join other iconic sculptures of celebrated Los Angeles sports superstars Wayne Gretzky, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jerry West, Chick Hearn and Oscar De La Hoya.
The ceremony, which is open free to the public, will be highlighted by speeches from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and other individuals who were his teammates, colleagues and friends during his unprecedented career and will conclude with a climactic unveiling of the statue.
Speakers include Stu Lantz (emcee), Earvin “Magic” Johnson, James Worthy, Jerry West, Pat Riley, Eddie Doucette, Richard Lapchik, Jeanie Buss, Tim Leiweke. Former teammates, coaches along with friends and family of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will also be in attendance.
Friday, November 16, 2012
4:30 p.m.– Ceremony Begins
5:15 p.m. (approximately) –Unveiling
The ceremony will take place at the permanent location of the statue: Star Plaza at STAPLES Center (Just west of Figueroa Street & Chick Hearn Court intersection)
Event area will be tented for possible rain
The ceremony will be broadcast live (in its entirety) on Time Warner Cable Sportsnet and Time Warner Cable Deportes.