Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is probably the greatest basketball player ever that always seems to be left out of the conversation as the greatest basketball player ever. He is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. He won six NBA titles. He won six NBA MVP’s. He was a 19-time all-star. His #33 is retired by both the Bucks and the Lakers. He won 3 straight national titles at UCLA, and couldn’t win 4 because freshman couldn’t play at the time. He was named the Most Outstanding Player each time. He led his high school team to 71 straight wins.
He won, won big, and was almost without rival for the bulk of his career. Perhaps that is why he isn’t held in higher regard. Perhaps his perceived mistreatment of the media for years as a player has hurt him in those conversations. It certainly seems to have hurt teams interest in him as a coach. Abdul-Jabbar had been interested in coaching since his retirement, and given the influence he had on the league, he thought that the opportunity would present itself. During his playing years, Abdul-Jabbar had developed a reputation of being introverted and sullen and it has kept him off the sideline.
Since 2005, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has served as special assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. During that time we’ve seen Andrew Bynum develop from the youngest player in NBA history into an all-star. Kareem definitely deserves some credit for that. And if you are the Orlando Magic, doesn’t that interest you?
A source confirmed to me that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was in Orlando the end of last week. The Orlando Sentinel’s Brian Schmitz wrote three weeks ago about the Phil Jackson plan and how Sam Vincent was selling the idea of a Hall of Famer, former all-star player, and person who is currently employed by another team taking over as coach. I think I solved the riddle.
Would it be a good fit? Certainly it could be challenging to bring aboard someone who has never coached before, at least not as an official assistant or a head coach. But then again, Doc Rivers and Mark Jackson both jumped into coaching straight out of the broadcast both with no coaching experience. It’s not like Kareem doesn’t understand the game. In fact he has more experience, and a much better playing resume. If Schmitz’s report is accurate then it sounds like bringing aboard Vincent, and Lakers’ assistants Jim Cleamons and Frank Hamblen, then the possibility of the team running some variation of the triangle offense would be possible.
Certainly Shaq had success in that offense, and so could Dwight. I think Dwight Howard would be intrigued by the idea of the new offense and the new coach, and benefit from both. It might even convince him to stick around in Orlando and try to raise a banner.
The Magic have yet to name a new GM, and who knows what direction they’ll take. I think Kareem Abdul-Jabbar might be a solution at head coach that could improve Dwight Howard, and keep him here in Orlando. Both sides could be pleased if given the opportunity.