Lakers honor Hall of Famer Abdul-Jabbar with statue
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Six-time NBA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was honored by the Los Angeles Lakers in a moving and often emotional ceremony on Friday when a bronze statue of the Hall of Famer was unveiled outside the Staples Center.
Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, joins fellow sports greats Wayne Gretzky, Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, Jerry West and Oscar De La Hoya in a group of iconic sculptures in the Star Plaza at the home of the Lakers.
Loud cheers rang out from the fans when the imposing statue was revealed, an almost 16-foot-tall image of Jabbar with his right arm pulled back, basketball in hand, poised for his trademark skyhook shot.
Confetti in the Lakers colors of purple and gold enveloped a stage where, moments earlier, Abdul-Jabbar had listened to fellow NBA greats Johnson, West, Pat Riley and James Worthy pay him homage with glowing tributes.
"I want to thank you fine gentlemen for helping me through this tonight," said the 65-year-old Jabbar, his voice cracking with emotion. "My stomach, it's full of butterflies.
"It didn't happen during a game. It never happened during a game but dealing with people is a different issue, so hopefully I will get through this.
"I want to thank all of you for coming here to share this evening with me tonight. It really means a lot to me. I can't begin to convey what it means."
LOU GEHRIG Continued...