At different times stories in the world of sports seem to take on a life of their own … without actually having much [any?] basis in fact [truth?].
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is still angry at Michael Olowokandi
For Kareem, it was a frustrating few years. Though Olowokandi was probably overrated at the time of his top selection — he was a project, no doubt, but also 23 when he finished his senior season at Pacific — he did boast significant gifts that could have made him an All-Star at some point. But despite his age (for comparison’s sake, Andrew Bynum(notes), the more malleable Kareem student, is about to enter his seventh NBA season, and he’s 23 as well), he was far from a willing pupil.
Abdul-Jabbar mentioned as much in a column he penned for ESPN.com today:
I have seen this process firsthand. When I coached for the Clippers, I had to deal with Michael Olowokandi, a player who perfectly fit the description “talented but uncoachable.” At practice, I would attempt to point out Mr. Olowokandi’s faults to him, ones he constantly repeated and resulted in lost possessions for the team or personal fouls that sent him to the bench. His reaction to my attempts to correct his bad habits was to take my input as a personal insult and embarrassment. He told me point-blank that he would not be criticized in front of the team. He stuck to his word and, as a result, had very few successful moments on the court playing the way he wanted to play. He took his place on the list of athletically gifted washouts who have been in and out of the league in the past 10 years.
which is an article that was written today, by Kelly Dwyer, in a US national/international on-line publication.
This is not the crux of Kareem’s column, but an aside in a well-reasoned piece that, as I did this morning, points to the fact that the NBA’s owners have to decide how they’re going to settle their revenue sharing issues in-house before they can demand massive “piece-of-the-pie” cutbacks for the players who have earned those record revenues and inspired those increased ratings.
Abdul-Jabbar, though, is still smarting. He’s long been known as someone who can keep a grudge with the best of them, and in ‘Kandi (pictured above with former Clippers coach Chris Ford) not only did Kareem see a project with potential that he could claim his own, but also a possible entryway into the world of NBA head coaching. To be charged with, almost singularly, changing the fortunes of one player and then watching as that player continually tunes you out? I’d be ticked, too.
The known facts about this matter would actually be the following:
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a column which was published today on ESPN.com.
2. In part of this column, Kareem mentions that:
i. He spent time trying to coach Michael Olowokandi, when the latter played for the LA Clippers;
ii. In his opinion, Olowokandi was not responsive to the type of coaching that Kareem was able to provide.
iii. The type of coaching which he provided included making criticisms of Olowokandi’s play in a public way at Clippers’ practices [i.e. in front of other Clippers' players].
iv. In his opinion, Olowokandi continued to make the same mistakes repeatedly, at least, in part, because Michael was someone who did not wish to make changes in his own play based upon this type of coaching … unlike Andrew Bynum, who has also worked with Abdul-Jabbar in the past.
v. As a result of Olowokandi’s poor attitude/approach to learning, in this specific type of setting, he should rightfully be placed in the category of the “athletically gifted washouts” who have been in and out of the league over the last 10 years.
3. Kelly Dwyer wrote a column today which was published by Yahoo! Sports.
4. In part of this column, Kelly mentions that:
i. In his opinion, Kareem is still “smarting”, concerning his work with Olowokandi.
ii. In his opinion, Kareem “… has long been known as someone who can keep a grudge with the best of them.”
iii. In his opinion, Kareem ” … [saw Olowokandi] as a project with potential that he could claim his own, but also a possible entryway into the world of NBA head coaching.”
iv. In his opinion, it must have been difficult for Kareem ” … To be charged with, almost singularly, changing the fortunes of one player and then watching as that player continually tunes you out?”
v. If he had been in Kareem’s shoes, working with Olowokandi, as a coach with the LA Clippers, then, he “… would be ticked, too”.
5. In his column today for ESPN.com, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar actually makes no mention, whatsoever, of being “angry”, “mad”, or ticked” with Michael Olowokandi; or, with being “smarting” in any way based on his past work with the ‘Kandi Man’.
In the opinion of yours truly …
It is now Kelly Dwyer who owes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a sincere apology, as far as this matter is concerned.
Related: Seems as though Kurt Helin [Pro Basketball Talk] now owes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar an apology, as well, for misrepresenting what ‘The Big Fella’ actually had to say about ‘The Kandi Man’ in today’s article for ESPN.com.