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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – “You can’t win unless you learn how to lose”

38387 points for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. A record that may never be broken. 3189 blocks. Never to be broken for sure. 6 NBA Most Valuable Player awards. Still not broken and 19 All Star games appearances. Unbelievable!

For 20 years he dominated on both ends of the court. Believe it or not, when he retired in in 1989, he was 42. The combination of his height (7 foot 2 inches) and his deadly sky hook was unprecedented. Even if you know that he was gonna pull off that sky hook, (and players back then sure knew) you wouldn’t be able to stop him no matter how tall you’re.

Here’s some brief history on the player who still holds most individual NBA records.

Born in 1947, Kareem had a very strict father. He was the only child and had early grown to be the tallest kid in their neighbourhood. Even when he was born he weighed 12 pounds, 10 ounces (5.7 kg) and was twenty-two and one half inches (57.2 cm) long.

His real name is Lew Alcindor (his Catholic name) but later on in 1971 he changed his religious beliefs and converted it into Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just one day after he won his first title with the Milwaukee Bucks. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar means “noble servant” to “Allah”. Alcindor was always happy with the way his childhood was developing.

Though his parents decided to move because they didn’t much like the neighbourhood in Harlem. His parents taught him a lot about discipline. They nurtured and supported him. I’d refer to him with Kareem for the rest of this short biography.

Kareem was also very interested in baseball. But heck, he was interested in many things like swimming and stickball. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that his height was telling him to try basketball.

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During the daytime, in 1952 in Upper Manhattan, the schools were open for daytime activities and that’s when he pretty much started to get involve in basketball. He tried his first hook shot at the age of 9. And as he remembers he missed it. But somehow it felt natural to him.

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That was the beginning of thousands and thousands of hook shots made in the NBA. He entered the NBA from the Milwaukee Bucks. He won one championship ring with them and the other 5 with the Lakers. Previously, before entering the National Basketball Association, he was offered 1 million dollars to play for the “Harlem Globetrotters” but he declined that offer.
Kareem remained injury free for most of his 20 years in the NBA except several times. The first time was in 1974 when he got his eye scratched and that’s when he started to wear protective goggles. Another time was when he broke his arm and as a result he punched Kent Benson with an elbow and eventually was out for 2 months (talking about Kareem).

Playing in Milwaukee has always been alright for him and he enjoyed the fans and the fame and all that but somehow he could feel that Milwaukee didn’t manage to satisfy his cultural and religious beliefs and so he requested that he was traded to New York or Los Angeles.

The result? The Lakers! It was his time to shine after Bill Russell left the game and Wilt Chamberlain was too old and not as quick to be the dominant force that he used to be. In the Lakers he sets so many records from rebounding to scoring to blocking shots. His goggles become his trademark as a result of so many physical contacts with other players, fighting under the rim for the basketball.

Pat Riley – “Why judge anymore? When a man has broken records, won championships, endured tremendous criticism and responsibility, why judge? Let’s toast him as the greatest player ever.”

Here are some more interesting facts about him..

In 1976 he started doing yoga to improve his flexibility.

In 1978, Abdul-Jabbar appeared in a movie as a foe to Bruce Lee in “Game of Death”.

In 1983, his house burnt down and he lost his beloved jazz LP collection. His fans brought him albums for which he was most grateful.
In 2008 he was chosen as “The Greatest Player in College Basketball History”.

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