Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born April 16, 1947 in New York City, New York) is a successful former high school, collegiate, and professional NBA basketball player. He is the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points. Today, he is a successful coach, author, and part-time actor.
He led Power Memorial Academy to three straight New York City Catholic championships, a 71-game winning streak, and a 96–6 overall record.
He played for the UCLA Bruins from 1965 to 1969 under coach John Wooden. During his time on the team, UCLA had 88 wins and only two losses. Alcindor graduated with a B.A. from UCLA. At UCLA, he suffered a scratched left cornea; from then on, he mostly played wearing goggles.
The Harlem Globetrotters offered him $1 million to play them, but he declined.
While at UCLA Abdul-Jabbar converted to Islam. He took his Arabic name in 1971, publicly announcing it on May 1 of that year, one day after the Bucks completed a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Bullets (known today as the Washington Wizards) in the NBA Finals. However, he has repeatedly denied any connections to the Nation of Islam, having been converted by a Turkish imam of the Hanafi school of thought, under whom he studied at UCLA.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was also notable for his physical fitness regimen. While in LA, he started doing yoga in 1976 to improve his flexibility. He was also a pupil of the kung fu master Bruce Lee, studying Lee's Jeet Kune Do style.
Abdul-Jabbar was famous for his "Skyhook" shot, against which it was notoriously difficult to defend. He averaged over 24 points and 10 rebounds over his career, and maintained a solid level of play well into his late 30s. He was named to the All-Star team even in his final season. After a then-record 20 pro seasons, Abdul- Jabbar retired from the game in 1989, leaving a legacy of professionalism, class, and success.
After the former Lew Alcindor changed his name and a couple seasons in Milwaukee under the new name, Kareem felt that the city didn't fit his cultural needs so he requested a trade to either the New York Knicks or the Los Angeles Lakers, In 1975, the Bucks traded him and reserve center Walt Wesley to the Los Angeles Lakers, for center Elmore Smith, guard Brian Winters and rookie blue chippers Dave Myers and Junior Bridgeman. The trade paved the way for a second Abdul-Jabbar dynasty as the Lakers went on to become one of the most dominant teams the next decade.
- Jersey Number - 33
- Games Played - 1560 (2nd highest in NBA history)
- Field Goal % - 55.9 (8th highest)
- Free Throw % - 72.1
- 3-Point % - 5.6
- Rebounds - 17,440 (3rd highest)
- Rebounds per Game - 11.2 (25th highest)
- Assists - 5660 (29th highest)
- Assist per Game - 3.6
- Steals - 1160
- Steals per Game -
- Blocks - 3189 (2nd highest)
- Blocks per Game - 2.57
- Points - 38,387 (highest)
- Points per Game - 24.6 (12th highest)
Abdul-Jabbar had been interested in coaching since his retirement, and given the influence he has had on the league, he had presumed those chances would come easily. However, during his playing years, he had developed a reputation of being introverted and sullen, often refusing to speak to the press, leading to the impression that he had nothing to say. This reputation contributed greatly to his lack of coaching opporunities.
Since he began lobbying for a coaching position in 1995, he had only been able to work as an assistant for the Los Angeles Clippers and the Seattle SuperSonics, helping mentor their young centers, Michael Olowokandi and Jerome James, respectively. He was the head coach in 2002 of the Oklahoma Storm of the USBL, but failed in a bid to get the head coach position for Columbia University a year later. He then worked as a scout for the New York Knicks. Finally, on September 2, 2005, Abdul-Jabbar returned to the Lakers as a special assistant to Phil Jackson to help develop the team's young center Andrew Bynum. He has also served as a volunteer coach at Alchesay High School on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Whiteriver, Arizona since 1998.
- 1969 - First round, first pick for Milwaukee Bucks on 1969 NBA Draft.
- 1975, June 16 - Traded with Los Angeles Lakers' Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, Dave Meyers and Junior Bridgeman.
- 1990, June 28 - announce his retirement.
- Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (May 15, 1995)
- NBA Rookie of the Year (1970)
- Played on NBA champion teams (1971, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)
- NBA MVP (1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980) (a record 6 times)
- NBA Finals MVP (1971, 1985)
- Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" (1985)
- One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996)
- First player in NBA history to play 20 seasons
- Holds NBA career record for (in addition to total points):
- Minutes (57,446)
- Field goals attempted (28,307)
- Field goals made (15,837)
- #7 in SLAM Magazine's Top 75 NBA Players of all time in 2003.
Playing for the Lakers allowed Jabbar to try his hand at acting. In 1980, he played co-pilot Roger Murdock in David Zucker's comedy, Airplane!. He had numerous other TV and film roles, often playing himself, such as in the hit Chevy Chase movie Fletch and the ABC sitcom Full House. Other notable roles include 1978's Game of Death, where his character Hakim fought Bruce Lee's character Billy Lo, and in Stephen King's telemovie version of The Stand. He also played himself in Slam Dunk Ernest starring Jim Varney and made a brief non-speaking cameo appearance in another David Zucker comedy, 1998's BASEketball. In addition, Abdul-Jabbar was co-executive producer of the 1994 TV movie, The Vernon Johns Story.
He is also a bestselling author, the latest of his books being Brothers In Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes (Publisher: Broadway 2004, ISBN 0385503385), co-written with Anthony Walton. It is the history of the 761st Battalion, an all-black tank squadron.
- Giant Steps with Peter Knobler (1987) ISBN 0553050443
- Kareem (1990) ISBN 0394559274
- Selected from Giant Steps (Writers' Voices) (1999) ISBN 0785799125
- Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement with Alan Steinburg (2000) ISBN 0380813416
- A Season on the Reservation: My Soujourn with the White Mountain Apaches with Stephen Singular (2000) ISBN 0688170773
Abdul-Jabbar also was successful in suing Miami Dolphins running back Karim Abdul-Jabbar because he felt like Karim was sponging off of the name he made famous by having the Abdul-Jabbar moniker and number 33 on Dolphins jerseys, as a result the younger one had to change his jersey nameplate to simply 'Abdul' while playing for the Dolphins. The football player had also been an athlete at UCLA.
While remaining virtually injury-free during his NBA career, Abdul-Jabbar broke his hand twice. The first time was during a pre-season game in 1974. He was bumped hard and got his eye scratched which angered him enough to punch the basket support stanchion. When he returned after missing the first 16 games of the season, he started wearing protective goggles. The second time he broke his hand was in the opening game of the 1977-78 season. Two minutes into the game, Abdul-Jabbar punched Milwaukee's Kent Benson in retaliation for an overly aggressive elbow. He was out for two months.
- Kareem's Official website
- Kareem's page @ NBA.com
- Kareem's page @ the Basketball Hall of Fame
- Kareem's profile @ IMDB.com
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