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Star wars, NBA-style

Allstarlogo4As we approach the NBA All-Star break, we are witnessing the cumulative effect of much maneuvering on the part of the more dominant franchises.

The Spurs -- the  defending champs -- are the only team that has played a pat hand. 

Summer ’07 saw the Lakers trying to make a deal to acquire K.G., which would ultimately fail.  But that effort would not be the last we heard from the Lakers. 

Frustration and impatience on the part of the Lakers faithful had reached a fever pitch.  For those Laker fans, watching K.G. go to Boston was vexing to the nth degree.  The only development that calmed that angst was the emergence of Andrew Bynum as a legit force in the paint.  Laker fans were now envisioning having something to do in May or June after years of absence from the significant playoff games. 

Then came an injury to Bynum that again pushed back the aspirations of Laker fans.  But then came the ultimate in deals from the blue. The Lakers got to acquire Pau Gasol, an All-Star center, from the Memphis Grizzlies for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and two first-round draft picks.  Presto-chango, and Laker fans are in heaven again.  Gasol is a solid performer who has the same aspirations and hopes as the loyal Laker fans. 

Not to be outdone, the Phoenix Suns have gotten in on the act.  They have acquired Shaquille O’Neal to give them the sizable frontcourt presence that many thought was keeping them out of the championship round.  If the 2007 playoff season was any indication, there is something credible in that view.  Shaq has been quoted as saying that he will be able to adjust his talents to the Suns' up-tempo, run-and-gun style.  The naysayers point to his conditioning issues and injury-plagued recent history. 

In any event, this season has become very interesting for fans worldwide.  Will the Laker-Celtic duel of the '80s be revived?  Will the Suns break through this year?  Will Detroit or San Antonio do their usual methodical march to the finals?  Whatever the outcome, the stage is set for a very interesting and competitive playoff season.  In all probability … the best in the last 20 years.    

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Comments

I've been a Lakers Fan since '64 and have never had such an emotional up and down season.

Whatever happens this year. We now know with Pau Gasol and the maturity of Andrew Bynum, the Lakers future looks very nice indeed.

Don' know how Dr. Buss is going to pay for all these players. But right now, I don't care, I'm just enjoying the show.

Kareem, wow insight to the legend, I look forward to reading your new book. I'm very happy that there is more to NBA players than just ball.

Thanks for all the happy memories.

I have followed you since your days at UCLA and I have always admired your professionalism and intellect. Having your own blog is in recognition of that.

Given the recent trades that both the Lakers and the Suns were involved in, what do the Spurs, Jazz, Rockets, Hornets, Warriors, Mavericks, Nuggets and Blazers have to do to remain competitive?

What do you think of the Kings making the playoffs now that Artest, Martin and Bibby have returned from their injuries?

Hi Cap, I just started reading your blog. it's great. I also have a blog. if you have some time check it out. we just started blogging. its ivblogz.com/from_the_stands
I've always been a Laker fan, through thick and thin. Can't tell you how many times I saw you make those sky hooks. I loved listening to Chick on the radio.
I havent read any of your books but i'll be looking to pick one up. Which do you recommend?
Great to see your work with Andrew Bynum paying off. The Lakers will be great again. keep up the good work.

Mr. Abdul-Jabbar,

I grew up in the 80s watching you and my beloved LA Lakers play some of the greatest basketball the world has ever known (though I didn't realize just how spoiled I was at the time). I still rememer the year you retired from the NBA and the way you went out with style, grace, and at still at the pinnacle of basketball greatness. Little did I know then that I was watching a series of homages to one of the greatest basketball players to ever lace on a pair of shoes.

As I grew older, I learned of your academic and scholastic achievements; needless to say, this did not lessen my esteem for you. If anything, I felt even more admiration for you. I only hope that your books help people to learn that history is not just the contributions of one race or ethnicity. May God (or Allah, in keeping with your faith) bless you and may your scholastic works achieve the same level of greatness as your play on the hardwood.

BTW, since this is a basketball blog, as much as it is a history blog, I suppose I should pose some questions related to the Lakers roster. Now that the Lakers have picked up Pau Gasol, whom do you think they will be most likely to offload (either now or in the coming off-season)?

Trevor Ariza and Luke Walton play 3/4, but each brings something a little different but appreciated to the Lakers. Although they haven't always understood how to maximize their efficacy in the triangle system, Vladimir Radmanovic and Sasha Vujacic both provide extra firepower that can be useful from the bench. Ronny Turiaf provides passion and a big body that would help provide Andrew Bynum (after his return) and Pau Gasol opportunities to rest. Lamar Odom hasn't performed as hoped, but still provides a decent high post and outside threat, even if he is paid a little more in keeping with a #1 or #2 option instead of a #3 or #4 option. Jordan Farmar is shaping up to be the point guard of the future for the Lakers, so where does that leave fan-favorite 33-year old Derek Fisher (who left Utah for LA due to the availability of the special medical needs of his daughter that could not be met in Utah but could be met in the Southland)? Coby Karl hasn't had much playing time, but the reports on him in the LA Times have been pretty decent. If the Lakers fail to go deep in the postseason this year, how will management react should Kobe Bryant demand to be traded again? As talented offensively as the current roster is, will Mitch try to deal for some more defensive minded players (particularly in the 1, 3, and 4 positions)? Will the Lakers attempt to resurrect the Showtime Lakers from the 80s (when the best defender, arguably, was Michael Cooper) and the Lakers won with an explosive offensive output every night? Or will the Lakers pay some more attention to the adage of "Defense wins championships."?

Incidentally, lest I forget; great job w/Andrew Bynum. As most loyal Laker fans know, although Bynum has some great natural talents, you're the artist who helped shape and mold him into the player he is today (or was, prior to his knee injury). If Bynum can develop into even one-half of the player you were in your heyday and stay with the Lakers, the Lakers should be a contender for at least the Western Conference every year.

Best wishes,

A Lifelong Laker Fan

Kareem -
I think the acquisition of Shaq gives the Suns an excellent chance to win it all. Do you see the Spurs making any moves down the stretch?

The best season in the last twenty years? That's quite a prediction.

I suppose that's because all truly great seasons end with the Lakers and the Celtics in the Finals.

GO LAKERS!

Estimado Kareem,

You have inspired me since our college days at UCLA.
It is not often that we see an athlete that is also a progressive/radical scholar. Consequently I was not surprised by your endorsement of Obama.

In terms of the Lakers, is it in your plans to seek the coaching job with the lakers once Phil Jackson's tenure runs out due to his health issues?

Thanks for the great memories,

Marco

Kareem,

When Neil Young left CSNY, he wrote of his prior bandmates "they had the best selection, they were poisioned with protection, nothing left they needed, nothing left to find." And later, as a general observation, "see the losers in the best bars, see the winners in the dives, where the people are the real stars."

From what the papers say, you have always walked your own journey. I view your time (what little I know of it) in Native American Country basketball as a badge of honor. "...I got bored, and left them there. They were just dead weight to me. Better down the road, without that load."

How nice to see you with the Lakers and something a pure as the Bynum construction initiative. I hope that the deal with Phil is mutually enjoyable for the two of you. You, Phil, and Walton were very distinctive personalities. Not sure the league has many such guys today...did enjoy reading espn's writeup this week on Craig Hodges' stand.

No TV in the house as a kid in the late 70s. Kermit lived in our neighborhood. Nights were Chick talking up the Big Fella. Those images across a night mind are ones for which I'm grateful 30 years later.

All-right Kareem,

Great to see you writing your own blog. Your wisdom, patience, and example are helping Bynum the player and the young man. I'm sure Kwame could see what a powerful and positive influence that is for a 7 foot teenager in the NBA. Thank you for your wisdom and dedication to teaching.

Lew Alcindor, that was a great name! But Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is simply unforgettable. Just as Mohamed Ali is to Casius Clay.

How can any NBA team stop a Bynum-Gasol in the paint? Are they going to be unstoppable in your opinion. Having the two is almost like having Jabbar and Duncan in the same team, agree?

Why does Shaq thinks he is the best Center of all time? When there is you, Olajuwon, Bill Russel and Wilt as the top four Centers in the history of the NBA.

Kareem,

Did Kwame Brown seek your help last year and into the training camp this season? What was it with Kwame in you opinion why he is not able to fulfill his potential?

Kareem

Thanks for all that you've done in your life journey. I admire you quite a bit. You're in the same generation as my father and I'd like to pay you a ton of respect. I hope to come to a book signing if you're ever in Washington DC in the future.

Thanks for the times as a Lakers player and the Championships. Thanks for the work with Andrew Bynum and most importantly thanks for the intellectual light you shine on so many of us with the books and your deep knowledge of history.

Glad you share all of that!!

Duane Baker Jr.

When all is said and done, aren't you rooting for Boston/LA in the Finals?

Kareem,

Reading your blog is a treat. You have so much knowledge about history, it is really great to read. I will always remember my dad and all the stories he told me about history. Unfortunatly he recently passed, but the memories are priceless. I am sure your kids really appreciate all of the history and culture that you have gained in your lifetime.

PS.I have a picture of you and my Uncle Lou Baumeister in the LA Forum. I think it was taken sometime around 1980. Back then he was the president of the Forum.

I saw you on the morning show this morning and that made my day.
I believe that you are the greatest center, and greatest player to ever play in the NBA.
Do you think that Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA today?
Fayez A. jADEED

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Captain Kareem

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is considered by many fans and sportswriters to be the greatest basketball player of all time. The 7-foot-2 Hall of Fame center, famous for his indefensible skyhook, dominated the NBA for 20 years, first with the Milwaukee Bucks then with the Los Angeles Lakers. Before that he was the star of the UCLA Bruins teams that won three consecutive NCAA championships. Kareem was the NBA's MVP six times, a 19-time all-star and set the NBA all-time records in nine categories. He is the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, a record that may never be broken.

Since retiring as a player in 1989, Kareem has balanced his love of basketball with his love of history. In 2002 he led a USBL team, the Oklahoma Storm, to a championship. Since 2005, he has been the special assistant coach for the Lakers, working with Andrew Bynum.

In 2008 he was chosen The Greatest Player in College Basketball History.

Kareem also remains intellectually active, authoring six bestselling history books intended to popularize the contributions of African-Americans to American culture and history. His books include "Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement"; "Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes"; "A Season on the Reservation," which chronicles his time teaching basketball and history on an Apache Indian reservation in White River, Ariz.; and the current New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance."

His audio adaptation, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Audio & Musical Journey through the Harlem Renaissance," is a four-volume compilation read by Bob Costas, Avery Brooks, Jesse L. Martin, and Stanley Crouch, and features private and fascinating conversations with dozens of icons, including Coach John Wooden, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones and Billy Crystal. He has also been written to L.A. Times, under the Sports section.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been appearing on various radio stations and TV shows, as well as the most relevant websites talking about his life and his new audio book, On the Shoulders of Giants.

All images are property of www.iconomy.com unless otherwise stated. All info copyrighted and owned by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not replicated without permission.

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Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is the 2008 Honorary Chair Library Card Sign-up Month, which takes place in September. He will also appear at the American Library’s National Convention on June 28th and 29th at the Long Beach Convention Center to sign his poster.

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