Statue of Limitations?

Like most everyone, I was shocked when I heard Lakers all-time great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaking publically this week about just how bad his relationship with the Lakers organization has deteriorated.  Aside from the claims I heard from Kareem, I have no idea of the details from the fallout (especially from the other side), but one point he did raise has legitimate validity.  Currently there are five statues outside Staples Center in Los Angeles, and Kareem believes he’s been slighted by not having one of his own considering all that he’s done for the Lakers franchise.  Now normally I would just write this off as egotistical ex-pro athlete talk, but I think Kareem is justified in his claim.  Most of us understand what the career of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar brought to the Lakers, the NBA, and the city of Los Angeles so I won’t bore you with the numbers.  That being said, let me bore you with some numbers:  The 7-foot plus, goggle wearing, sky hooking machine has scored the most points in the history of the NBA!  Number one.  First place.  Nobody ahead.  On top of that, he’s third all-time in both blocks and rebounds!  And if dominating 3 of the 5 major statistics in basketball isn’t good enough for you, how about being an all-star an NBA record 19 times!  Defense?  Try 11 times on the first or second team all-league D.  Measure somebody’s success in championships?  Kareem has 6!  MVP’s?  Kareem has 6!  All the numbers are silly.  The cherry on top is that he actually played his college basketball at UCLA and won 3 National Championships and is widely considered the greatest college basketball player of all-time!  And he did it in Los Angeles!  What other criteria could one measure?!?  So who the hell else could possibly have a statue outside Staples Center if this man doesn’t?  Thor?  Zeus?  Christ himself?  Try Wayne Gretzky.  Don’t get me wrong, Wayn-o is the greatest to ever step on frozen water but he only played in L.A. for 8 years!!  Gretzky never won a single championship in Los Angeles and literally went seasons without making the playoffs with the Kings!  His best years were clearly in Edmonton with the Oilers where he won 4 straight championships.  That’s where Gretzky deserves a statue….Oh, wait…HE ALREADY HAS A STATUE THERE, erected in 1989!  You want to put another one up in L.A. of ‘The Great One’? Fine.  But not before Kareem.  And because Oscar De La Hoya is from East L.A. he too gets a statue outside Staples?  Before Kareem??  No way.  And I hate to bring it here, but I have to…As great as Magic Johnson was for the Lakers (In my opinion the best point guard to ever play), he has less championships, less MVP’s, less All-Star appearances, less NCAA titles and less individual statistical records.  Now of course Magic deserves a statue, but what I don’t understand is that Magic retired years and years after Kareem did and gets a statue before him?  I think this is an example of what Kareem meant when he said instead of being on the back burner, he didn’t feel like he was even on the stove.  For god’s sake the former Laker’s play-by-play announcer Chick Hern got a statue!  I don’t mean to take anything away from any of the great athlete’s or personalities who have statues outside Staples Center, but the point is if Kareem Abdul-Jabbar doesn’t have his likeness poured in brass permanently outside Staples Center, than nobody should. 


Hard 2 Guard

How in the world do you guard Dirk Nowitzki?  Everyone seems to be raising the question and for good reason.  The German giant played out of his mind Tuesday night in Dallas, shooting an absurd percentage while putting up nearly 50 in a game 1 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.  So what’s the recipe for slowing this man down?  A 7-footer with a soft touch, an unorthodox arsenal, and uncanny range.  But didn’t we already know this?  I’m not sure why it took another playoff outburst to get people talking about how good this guy is.  RIGHT NOW dude is a top 25 scorer in NBA HISTORY and has scored more points than solidified legends such as Ray Allen, Clyde Drexler, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce, and yes…Larry Bird.  Just like any other great offensive player, when the shot is falling, no defender or scheme will outmatch it.  With the talent that’s in this league, good offense beats good defense every single time.  But if you’re the Thunder, you can’t just hope he misses.  How do you attempt to contain him?  Personally, I think it starts with the defender.  Within the first two or three possessions of the game Tuesday, when I saw Serge Ibaka guarding Dirk, I knew OKC had a problem on their hands.  Forget Ibaka not being able to guard Dirk vertically on his jumper (because nobody can), but laterally Ibaka could not stay in front of him.  In turn, Dirk was able to blow by him early for layups and get fouled in the lane.  And that’s not to take away from Ibaka, who’s another near 7-footer that’s athletic as all hell (remember how he wowed us in the dunk contest with his agility and leaping ability), and is a solid defender (leads 2011 playoffs in blocks).  But when it comes to side to side footwork and staying in front of a wing player whose jumper demands respect and will also put it on the floor when you’re too close…Ibaka is not your man for the job.  As the game went on, Thunder coach Scott Brooks tried throwing 5 or 6 different defenders at Dirk, but by that time the beast had already grown larger than life.  The Thunder also made the mistake of letting him catch the ball in good position while on his favorite side of the floor (the left side if your under the hoop facing half court).  If you look at Dirk’s shot chart from Tuesday, of his 15 field goal attempts, 12 of them were inside the paint or on his favorite/strong side.  If the Thunder can make the hardest part of Dirk’s offensive possessions before he ever catches the ball, while limiting his touches on his strong side, the Thunder will have a chance to win this series.  Despite Dirk going nuts, OKC still had a shot to win coming down the stretch of game 1.  Huge win for the Mavs, but I think we’ll see 6 more games between the two teams.

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