Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—who played basketball, writes books, coaches basketball, and advocates for worthy public causes—has leukemia. Although Mr. Abdul-Jabbar has known he has chronic myeloid leukemia since December of 2008, he only revealed it publicly 9 November 2009. The diagnosis has apparently been confirmed by checking for the Philadelphia chromosome abnormality.
As a long-time admirer of Mr. Abdul-Jabbar (I remember going to see him play on the UCLA freshman team when they played a game at Pasadena City College), I am saddened by the news. To be sure, it’s oddly good news for those who have or who study chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia, as the disease suddenly has a much larger public profile. As my brother Frank noted, it will probably do for this form of leukemia what Magic Johnson’s and Lou Gerhig’s inflictions did for AIDS and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, respectively.
Apparently, I’m not alone in my admiration for Mr. Abdul-Jabbar. Broderick Turner, the reporter for the Los Angeles Times who reported about Mr. Abdul-Jabbar’s revelation that he has the disease, followed up that earlier story with a note about others’ expression of concerns.
The outpouring of support and love has been overwhelming.
Fans have e-mailed expressing their sadness, offering medical help, looking to support and even several saying it’s time that Abdul-Jabbar has his statue erected outside of Staples Center alongside Magic Johnson.
After all, Abdul-Jabbar won five of his six NBA championships with the Lakers. He won five of his six MVP awards with the Lakers. He spent 14 of his 20 seasons with the Lakers. And he’s the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points.
Abdul-Jabbar has done a lot for Lakers basketball.
Why not a statue with him wearing his goggles shooting his famous skyhook?
I’m for that! Pass the word on to others. Mr. Abdul-Jabbar life isn’t in immediate danger (he’s told reporters that the prognosis is good), but he certainly deserves the honor of having a statue outside the current home of the Lakers.
Link to Mr. Turner’s column. See the last few paragraphs of the column. Also see the news story Mr. Turner reported a day earlier about Mr. Abdul-Jabbar’s announcement of his diagnosis. Last, see previous entries from this blog about Mr. Abdul-Jabbar’s activities.
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