LOS ANGELES—On April 8, at Crypto.Com Arena, the Lakers celebrated Kareem-Abdul Jabbar’s 75th birthday with help from his Showtime buddies at center court. A big assist goes to the Laker Girls pushing a giant cake adorned with the 75 logo, as 18,000 fans sang happy birthday.
The team held a party to honor the NBA icon known for the skyhook that devastated opposing teams in the 1970s and the 1980s.
In addition to former teammates, like Magic Johnson, Byron Scott and Norm Nixon, Paula Abdul- the original Laker girl – was in attendance.. UCLA Health honored the former Bruin with a $100,000 check for Abdul-Jabbar’s Skyhook Foundation. Every fan received a bright Lakers yellow Kareem No. 33 jersey entering the arena.
Abdul-Jabbar won five NBA championships with the team during his 14-year stint with the franchise. He worked as Phil Jackson’s assistant coach between 2005-2011.
The legendary center made an impact off the court contributing to conversations about race and religion. To honor Abdul-Jabbar’s activism and social initiatives, the NBA named its new Social Justice Champion Award after him.
The Los Angeles Lakers had a disappointing season failing to live up to expectations. The short-handed team missing LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, 120-101, snapping an eight game losing streak.
Dwight Howard muscled his way to a pair of dunks to begin the game, though the Lakers found themselves tied early with the Thunder. Malik Monk got involved offensively with a drive to the rim extending the Lakers early lead.
Monk was fantastic playing defense, getting steals than going coast to coast for many buckets. He added 12 points, while Stanley Johnson got key points with his jumper and driving to the basket, and Wenyen Gabriel provided hustle and energy on defense.
These three guys could be a lift for the Purple and Gold next year. This off-season will be a time of uncertainty as the team figures out what changes must be made to win the NBA championship.