Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is an American former professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers.
During his career as a centre, Abdul-Jabbar was a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), a record 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA selection, and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member.
A member of six NBA championship teams as a player and two more as an assistant coach, Abdul-Jabbar twice was voted NBA Finals MVP.
In 1996, he was honoured as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. NBA coach Pat Riley and players Isiah Thomas and Julius Erving have called him the greatest basketball player of all time.
- Full name: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Profession: American basketball player
- Born: 16 April 1947 (age 73 years), New York, New York, United States
- Height: 2.18 m
- Full name: Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr
- Spouse: Habiba Abdul-Jabbar (m. 1971–1978)
- Children: Sultana Abdul-Jabbar, Adam Abdul-Jabbar, Amir Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Jr., Habiba Abdul-Jabbar
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About Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar birth name was Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr., he changed his after converting to Islam.
Kareem was born16 April 1947 in New York City, New York, United States. He is the only child of Cora Lillian, a department store price checker, and Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Sr., a transit police officer and jazz musician.
He grew up in the Dyckman Street projects in the Inwood neighborhood of Upper Manhattan. Alcindor was unusually large and tall from a young age.
At birth he weighed 12 lb 11 oz (5.75 kg) and was 22 1⁄2 inches (57 cm) long, and by the age of nine he was already 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) tall.
By the eighth grade (age 13–14) he had grown to 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) tall and could already slam dunk a basketball.
Alcindor began his record-breaking basketball accomplishments when he was in high school, where he led coach Jack Donahue’s Power Memorial Academy team to three straight New York City Catholic championships, a 71-game winning streak, and a 79–2 overall record.
This earned him a nickname—”The tower from Power”. His 2,067 total points were a New York City high school record.
The team won the national high school boys basketball championship when Alcindor was in 10th and 11th grade and was runner-up his senior year.
Alcindor had a strained relationship with his coach. In his 2017 book “Coach Wooden and Me,” Abdul-Jabbar relates an incident where Donahue called him a nigger.
During the summer of 1968, Alcindor took the shahada twice and converted to Sunni Islam, though he did not begin publicly using his Arabic name until 1971.
He boycotted the 1968 Summer Olympics by deciding not to try out for the United States Men’s Olympic Basketball team, who went on to easily win the gold medal.
Alcindor’s decision to stay home during the 1968 Games was in protest of the unequal treatment of African-Americans in the United States.
Alcindor was one of only four players who started on three NCAA championship teams; the others all played for Wooden at UCLA: Henry Bibby, Curtis Rowe and Lynn Shackelford.
At the time, the NBA did not allow college underclassmen to declare early for the draft. He completed his studies and earned a Bachelor of Arts with a major in history in 1969.
In his free time, he practiced martial arts. He studied Jeet Kune Do under Bruce Lee.
After winning 71 consecutive basketball games on his high school team in New York City, Alcindor was recruited by Jerry Norman, the assistant coach of UCLA, where he played for coach John Wooden on three consecutive national championship teams and was a record three-time MVP of the NCAA Tournament.
Drafted with the first overall pick by the one-season-old Bucks franchise in the 1969 NBA draft, Alcindor spent six seasons in Milwaukee.
After leading the Bucks to its first NBA championship at age 24 in 1971, he took the Muslim name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Using his trademark “skyhook” shot, he established himself as one of the league’s top scorers.
In 1975, he was traded to the Lakers, with whom he played the final 14 seasons of his career and won five additional NBA championships.
Abdul-Jabbar’s contributions were a key component in the “Showtime” era of Lakers basketball. Over his 20-year NBA career, his teams succeeded in making the playoffs 18 times and got past the first round 14 times; his teams reached the NBA Finals on 10 occasions.
At the time of his retirement at age 42 in 1989, Abdul-Jabbar was the NBA’s all-time leader in points scored (38,387), games played (1,560), minutes played (57,446), field goals made (15,837), field goal attempts (28,307), blocked shots (3,189), defensive rebounds (9,394), career wins (1,074), and personal fouls (4,657).
He remains the all-time leader in points scored, field goals made, and career wins. He is ranked third all-time in both rebounds and blocked shots.
In 2007, ESPN voted him the greatest center of all time, in 2008, they named him the “greatest player in college basketball history”, and in 2016, they named him the second best player in NBA history (behind Michael Jordan).
Abdul-Jabbar has also been an actor, a basketball coach, and a best-selling author.
In 2012, he was selected by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be a U.S. global cultural ambassador. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.