LA Lakers: 'Cap' Gets His Statue, Lakers Owe Another Honor to Captain No. 2

William Van NollFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

On Monday, the Lakers organization extended the mightiest of tributes to legendary captain Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by unveiling plans to erect a statue outside of Staples Center in the big man's honor.

The Lakers' latest gesture is a long overdue olive branch, of sorts, and one that can hopefully ameliorate the NBA All-Time leading scorer's displeasure in simply wanting more "respect" from a team he anchored towards five NBA championships.

Now, the Sky Hook will be forever immortalized in a celestial form common only to the sport's greatest heroes.

No Laker is more deserving of this great honor than Abdul-Jabbar.

His stats are downright ludicrous. He changed the Lakers franchise and the game of basketball, for that matter, with the most unstoppable move ever seen on the floor.

A lifelike version of "Cap" is the perfect complement to the Lakers' other golden effigies adorning the Staples Center pavilion (Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Chick Hearn) and an elegant way to mend the soured relationship between a player and his beholden organization.

All too often, relationships can get in the way of business.

And when you hold the Buss Family's feet to the fire, in the spirit of their successful, entrepreneurial patriarch, they'll choose business every time.

Justice, it seems, has been served on one front.

But for the modern Lakers fan, this latest act is still not enough.

Quite simply, the Lakers owe their other captain and five-time NBA champion this same level of respect.

Derek Fisher—the 38-year old point guard who poured his heart into the Lakers organization for 13 years—deserves to have his No. 2 jersey hanging alongside fellow Lakers greats in the Staples Center rafters.

Of course, deliberation over retiring a jersey can take years, and such a move can (and should) be long debated by the organization's hierarchy.

But it's only natural we embrace this latest notion of goodwill for a former great and let the discussion happen for another.

There are commonalities among the Lakers' list of retired numbers.

Leadership. Championship success. Winning.

Fish has these traits—and then some.

Of all the players to put on a purple and gold jersey during the 50+ years in Los Angeles, no Laker was more of a professional, more of a leader or more of a class act than Derek Fisher.

Handing out statues or retiring jerseys left and right is not what this is about.

It's about respect.

And with the utter disrespect shown to Derek Fisher at the trade deadline this year, it's only right the Lakers repair this frayed relationship in a fitting manner given Fisher's championship contributions during his storied Lakers career.

Abdul-Jabbar's statue may still not rinse the bad taste out of his mouth from his perceived slighting by the team, but it's a start and an honest one that should also be bestowed unto Fisher.

All good organizations honor their greatest achievers with the highest distinction.

With Abdul-Jabbar's chapter finally closed on his battle for proper recognition from his team, Fish deserves to have one opened of his own.