The Los Angeles Lakers are already heading into a season that is going to be one where all eyes are going to be on them because of the additions to their team headlined by Dwight Howard. In looking forward towards this season, the Lakers will also take time to honor three ex-players, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes, and Shaquille O'Neal. All three of these players are deserving of this honor and for the Lakers there is no better time to capitalize on the hype for this upcoming season.
On November 16, 2012, Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, one of the greatest NBA players in history, finally will get the recognition that he deserves. Many will question what took the Lakers so long to honor Kareem with a statue in front of Staples Center, and to be honest there really is no valid answer. Looking at what Kareem was able to do during his entire NBA career, he should have had a statue outside of Staples Center years ago. Although, all the blame cannot be placed on the Lakers alone because Kareem has had his ways. Kareem's relationship with the Lakers has not always been smooth, and that can be accounted for why the Lakers took so long to honor him with a statue. It was well known that Kareem wanted to be a NBA head coach and the Lakers never gave him that opportunity and then last year when Kareem made some questionable comments concerning then Lakers C Andrew Bynum that turned off some people. There have been quite a few instances between Kareem and the Lakers but is that a reason to not honor one of the greatest NBA players of all-time? Probably not, but for all it is worth now Kareem will forever have a home in Staples Center.
On April 2, 2013, the Lakers will honor Shaquille O'Neal by retiring his No. 34 jersey. In the entire history of the Lakers, there were few big time personalities like Shaq. There was Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers and Kobe, but Shaq ranks right up there with them. Watching Shaq in his prime for the Lakers, was certainly a sight to see because of the dominance that he displayed on the court. Teamed up with Kobe Bryant, together they both became one of the best 1-2 combinations, not only in the NBA at the time, but in NBA history. Shaq did not leave Los Angeles without controversy though, and that came with his relationship with Kobe Bryant. To those on the inside, they probably expected that it would not be too long before Shaq or Kobe had to move on. We all know how that ended with Kobe staying in Los Angeles and Shaq being traded to Miami. Throughout his entire career in Los Angeles, the one question that many people wonder is, what could have been if Shaq and Kobe had stayed together? We will never know the answer to that but it would be safe to say that it may have led to more championships, that's how dominating they were together. Looking back, the Lakers made the right move in keeping Kobe and letting Shaq go, but do not underestimate the importance of Shaq to the Lakers. During his title runs with Kobe, Shaq was the most important player to the Lakers, even though towards the end, it was clear Kobe was going to succeed him as the primary superstar in Los Angeles. Shaq's career with the Lakers was a great one and it is great that he finally gets to see his No. 34 be retired among the greatest to ever put on a Lakers uniform.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, and Jamaal Wilkes are going to have their place in Lakers' history and forever have a home at the Staples Center. Each of these players made an incredible impact on the Lakers' organization, some of which will never be seen for a very long time. Playing in Los Angeles and for the Lakers is special, and unlike any other team in sports. The closest comparison would be playing for the New York Yankees in baseball. The Lakers are an organization in the NBA that every player wants to play for, but not every player gets the chance. There are few NBA cities where a player is able to make the city their own. For example, Karl Malone and John Stockton in Utah, Michael Jordan in Chicago. Los Angeles is a place where it makes the player and they become that much more bigger. Becoming a better known player is one thing, but in Los Angeles the championships are the only thing that really matters. And that is no more demonstrated then what Los Angeles is going to experience this season with the honoring of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, and Jamaal Wilkes.
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