In case you haven’t heard, former Laker great Kareem Abdul-Jabaar is upset he doesn’t have a statue outside of the Staples Center like Jerry West or Magic Johnson. And apparently some Lakers fans don’t really care. Earlier this month, LSU decided to honor Shaquille O’Neal with a “Shaqtue” outside their basketball arena.
It got me to thinking : which college players of the last 10 years would be most deserving of having a statue of some sort? Which players were the ultimate representatives of their school with their incredible play and unforgettable moments?
Here’s my list with reasons why and why not:
(Obviously there really aren’t many players in the history of the game that deserve a statue but just go with it.)
- Shane Battier, Duke
Why: Where to begin with Mr. Battier? He won the Naismith and Wooden Player of the Year Awards his senior year where he led the Blue Devils to the 2001 NCAA Championship earning the Tournament MOP in the process. He exemplified the type of defense that Coach K’s best teams have had, winning 3 NABC Defensive Players of the Year Awards in the process. One of the most hated players in Duke history who received the wrath of opposing teams’ fans, but as baseball legend Reggie Jackson once said – “Fans don’t boo nobodies.”
Why Not: Duke doesn’t do the statue thing, opting to retire jerseys – Battier has his 31 retired. With so many good players, it would be tough to choose which were the best. But the real reason is simple : what sculptor could ever perfect Battier’s imperfect ridges? His head is like a Ruffles potato. No one would attempt it.
- Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse
Why : Pretty much single-handedly took the Orange to the 2003 NCAA championship (ok, Hakeem Warrick gets a little credit). In their run to the championship, Melo led Syracuse in points, rebounds, minutes played, field goals, and free throws. He was simply dominant and rewarded Jim Boeheim with his only National Championship.
Why not: He played one season at Syracuse. He dominated but you can’t get a statue for one season.
- Adam Morrison, Gonzaga
Why: As much as people want to make fun of his lackluster NBA career where he’s won two rings riding the pine for the Lakers, Morrison was one of the best scorers in recent college basketball history. His unbelievable shot making helped him beat out J.J. Redick as the nation’s leading scorer with an impressive 28.1 points per game. Plus, unlike the Dukes and UNC’s of the world, Gonzaga doesn’t really have as rich a college basketball history and Morrison is their only National POY.YES- I know John Stockton was a Bulldog.
Why not: It’s hard not to think of how abysmal he was in the NBA. Also, the guy cried on the court. When the game wasn’t over. In the NCAA tournament. That’s pathetic.
With commercial’s like that, no wonder EA Sports doesn’t produce a college basketball game any more. And do we need to mention the pathetic ‘stache?
- Joakim Noah, Florida
Why: The exuberant forward is the most recognizable player from the Gator’s back-to-back NCAA championships. He was the Most Outstanding Player for the first championship and was the heart and soul of those Florida teams.And no matter how much you hated him, he was damn entertaining.
Why Not: He might have been the most well-known Gator, but he might not have actually been the best on that team. Al Horford and Cory Brewer were just as pivotal to the success of Billy Donovan’s teams. Not to mention, that statue would be an eye sore. I’m sorry but it’s true.
- Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
Why: Psycho T was an animal for the Tar Heels. A unanimous ACC first-team selection four times (only player in history). ACC Player of the Year. Every POY award that’s out there. A NCAA champion. The ACC’s all-time leading scorer. He was simply incredible.
Why Not: Like Duke, there are too many great players in their history to give away statues. But he was the ultimate competitor who unlike some of the other Tar Heels – stayed all four years and won a National Championship in the process. Nevertheless, North Carolina would never do it.
- Jimmer Fredette, BYU
Why: Like Morrison, Fredette was a scoring machine for a non-basketball power and became a household name. Unlike Morrison, Fredette never broke down on the court, just broke down players off the dribble to set himself for another dagger jump shot or crafty lay in. Fredette has pretty much single scoring record in BYU history and was the POY by multiple outlets.
Why Not:s Even though he led BYU to their first Sweet 16 since Danny Ainge’s 1981 squad, he didn’t take BYU to the next level like some of the others on this list. How he does in the NBA may affect his legacy but probably not (he won’t be as bad as Morrison). I don’t know enough about the Mormon religion but maybe they can’t build statues of athletes?
So who gets one built?
Fredette clearly has the best chance to have a statue of him built. A school with a relative weak basketball history works in his favor and he was absolutely adored by the Cougar faithful. Not having a Final Four run won’t diminish what he meant to the school and their program. I actually wouldn’t be suprised if it’s built before Kareem gets his in front of the Staples Center.
Honorable Mention: Dwayne Wade, Marquette; Juan Dixon, Maryland, Emeka Okafor, UCONN; Kemba Walker, UCONN; J.J. Redick, Duke; Jameer Nelson, St. Joe’s; Jay Williams, Duke