Biography of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born April 16, 1947 in New York City, New York) was a successful high school, collegiate, and professional NBA basketballplayer. He is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points.

Today, he is a successful coach, author, and part-time actor. Born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor (usually known as Lew Alcindor), to Cora and Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor in Harlem, New York City, he was a center who grew to 7’2″ (2.18 m) tall.

Early years

High school

He led Power Memorial Academy to three straight New York City Catholic championships, a 71-game winning streak, and a 96–6 overall record.

College

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.

Professional athletics

The Harlem Globetrotters offered him $1 million to play them, but he said ‘no’.

On a coin-flip with the Phoenix Suns, he would be the number one pick in the 1969 NBA Draft pick. The winner of the coin-flip was the MilwaukeeBucks, where he would play five seasons. In 1975, the Bucks traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers, for center Elmore Smith, guard Brian Winters and rookie blue chippers Dave Myers and Junior Bridgeman.

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, which was notoriously difficult to defend against. After a then-record 20 pro seasons, he retired from the game in 1989.

NBA Statistics
Jersey Number – 33

Look ma! I can fly!
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)
Coaching

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar volunteers to coach basketball at the AlchesayHigh School on the Fort Apache (also called the White River Apache), Indian Reservation in Whiteriver, Arizona since 1998 for $1. In 2000, he was an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers, under Jim Todd. He was the head coach in 2002 of the Oklahoma Storm of the USBL.

Athletic honors
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (15 May 1995)
College:
Player of the Year (1967, 1969)
Three-time First Team All-American (1967-69)
Played on three NCAA champion teams (1967, 1968, 1969)
Most Outstanding Player in NCAA Tournament (1967, 1968, 1969)
Naismith Award (1969)
NBA:
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)

Outside basketball

Actor

Playing for the Lakers allowed Jabbar to try his hand at acting: In 1980, he participated as the co-pilot in the movie Airplane!. He had numerous other TV and film roles, often playing himself, such as in the hit Chevy Chase movie Fletch. Other notable roles include 1978′s Game of Death, where he fought Bruce Lee, and in Stephen King’s The Stand. In addition, Abdul-Jabbar was co-executive producer of the 1994 TV movie: The Vernon Johns Story.

Author

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.

Other books:
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 MountainApaches with Stephen Singular (2000) ISBN 0688170773

Notes

Abdul-Jabbar has a prescription to smoke marijuana in the state of California, the result of nausea-inducing migraine headaches.

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