Does the NBA Owe Kareem Abdul-Jabbar A Chance?
The tone of Kareem's comments make it sound as if he's owed an opportunity based on his status (top scorer of all-time, legendary player, smart-as-a-whip man). Is he? Does the NBA owe anyone a job?
I would argue that KAJ needs to be on a bench (he's a special assistant, not a bench assistant now) for a few years before he can start a real complaint campaign. But then you just point at Vinny Del Negro, and that argument's lost. Henry Abbott, in the above-linked TrueHoop analysis, argues that by whining Kareem shows he may not be the right guy for an NBA head coach gig, which is at least partially about inspiration and motivation. That sounds right, too.
The bare reality might be, however, that NBA general managers are intimidated by Abdul-Jabbar. He's an imposing figure, just as much mentally as physically. He is not a company man, or at least he has shown a resistance to following a party line ... even when it comes to discussing the development of Andrew Bynum, his student he has at time ripped publicly. Teams don't want their coach causing storms in the media in terms of internal drama -- fighting with players, fighting with management, fighting with the world. Proven coaches -- Jackson, Pat Riley -- get away with it, but it's human nature for people to want to surround themselves with agreeable people. (Hence, the Del Negro hire.)
If KAJ did make an earnest effort to get a job, he'd get one within a few years. Heck, I know he'd get one before Patrick Ewing. But this isn't the right way to go about it going forward. We're all aware Kareem wants a job. It's up to him to turn that awareness into support.