While looking at the new statue of Jerry West, which is going to be unveiled soon in front of Staples Center, I went over the list of the other honorees and who is missing….
Certainly West is deserving, as is Chick Hearn and Magic Johnson….
As for Wayne Gretzky, I’m not sure. He only played in L.A. for seven years, never won a championship and never played a game at Staples….
And Oscar De La Hoya? His career record at Staples is 0-1, a loss to Shane Mosley. Why he gets a statue alongside Magic, West, Hearn and Gretzky is a mystery….
Kwame Brown and Smush Parker deserve statues more than De La Hoya. At least they won a game there….
Not to mention Wilt Chamberlain, who won a title here in 1972 and one of the greatest NBA players of all time….
As far as performers who have been slighted, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Sharman top the list….
Kareem’s resume’ is beyond reproach, evidenced by his 5 World Championship and multiple MVP’s in a Lakers uniform. He also possessed the single greatest weapon in sports history, the Sky Hook….
The Big Fella has been slighted and this needs to be corrected….
For some reason, the Lakers organization and fans have forgotten about Sharman, who is as responsible as anyone for the organization’s success….
As a head coach, he guided the Lakers to their first World Championship in Los Angeles in 1971-72. And not only did they win, they set an NBA record of 69 wins and an all-time professional sports record of 33 straight victories….
It was an incredible season and Sharman was the leader….
After that, Sharman became the General Manager and made three great trades which resulted in the Showtime Lakers….
In 1975, he traded for Kareem, which was the first piece to the championship puzzle….
In 1976, he allowed Gail Goodrich to leave as a free agent to the New Orleans Jazz, which resulted in a future 1st round draft pick. In 1979, Sharman used that pick to draft Magic Johnson….
In 1979, Sharman dealt Don Ford to Cleveland, in exchange for their 1982 1st round draft pick. Which turned out to be James Worthy….
So if not for Bill Sharman, there is no Showtime Lakers and probably not the championship teams of the 2000′s, either….
After Sharman stepped down as GM after the 1981-82 championship season, he was replaced by West; who sat in the catbird seat with the first pick in the draft; thanks to Sharman’s deal with Cleveland in 1979….
And there was James Worthy, sitting right at the top of the board. Talk about an easy transition into becoming a GM….
Sure, West could have taken Terry Cummings or Dominique Wilkins instead of Worthy, but it was a no brainer to take James. He was coming off a dominant National Championship performance with North Carolina and was clearly the best player. Almost every GM in the NBA would have taken Worthy and West gets far too much credit for that pick….
The credit should go to Sharman, who made a brilliant deal three years earlier to make West’s job easy….
Take nothing away from West, who was an outstanding GM and Hall-of Fame player, but Jerry getting credit for the Showtime Lakers is incorrect and an insult to Sharman….
Without Kareem, Magic and Worthy, the 1980′s Lakers don’t win any championships and it was Sharman who built that team….
But for some reason West gets all the credit….
Now in his 80′s, it’s high time Bill Sharman gets a statue in front of Staples and a banner in the rafters alongside Magic, West, Kareem, Wilt, Elgin Baylor, Hearn and Goodrich. He’s reportedly in poor health and time might be running out, so the Lakers need to do the right thing and remember just who it was who brought us our first World Championship and built Showtime….