Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is widely recognized as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. His is a career almost entirely filled with high points. He went from success to success and was frequently recognized by the NBA for his outstanding abilities.
For nearly two decades he was the safest bet in basketball, arguably any sport. It might be a bit harder to pick a winner these days – though Steph Curry and LeBron James come close – it’s still fun to bet on NBA games.
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There was only one year in Abdul-Jabbar’s career that he wasn’t voted an NBA All-Star. At 7’ 2”, he was a powerful presence on the court and his signature skyhook shot made him nearly unstoppable. This article will give a brief glimpse of his career and the 19 years that he dominated the court.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar grew up in New York and then moved to California to play basketball at UCLA. He had to play on the freshman team for a year before being able to move to the varsity team, where his talents were immediately noticed. During his college career, he was able to hone his natural abilities into the near-legendary talents that would make him famous around the world.
Out of college he was the #1 draft pick in the 1969 draft. He was picked by the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA and by the New York Jets of the American Basketball Association. His first season with the Bucks led them to second place in the Eastern Division, despite only being in their second year as a franchise. The next year, alongside Oscar Robertson, Abdul-Jabbar again helped his team to success in the playoffs.
Despite his success with the team, his stay in Milwaukee was relatively short-lived. By 1975, his contract had expired, and he was ready for greener pastures. When the Los Angeles Lakers signed him, he was happy to go and move on. With that, his legendary career really began.
Showtime with the LA Lakers
Abdul-Jabbar spent the remainder of his career with the Lakers. He rewarded their faith in him with 14 years of intense, fantastic play. While he was playing for the Lakers, they were NBA Champions 5 times – in 1979-80, 1981-82, 1984-85, 1986-87, and 1987-88.
During the Showtime Era, the LA Lakers were the safest bet in basketball. With Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar leading the way, the team seemed unstoppable. They played a fast and aggressive style of basketball that has influenced how the game is played to this day.
No team is quite as dominant today as the Lakers were from 1979 to 1991. The Golden State Warriors have come close to being as influential, but still haven’t quite made it.
Always an All-Star
Abdul-Jabbar’s career records almost seem impossible when read together. Could one man really have done so much and been so dominant for nearly 20 years? He was a 6-time NBA champion, 19-time All-Star, 6-time MVP, 10-time All-NBA first team, 2-time NBA scoring champion, 1-time rebounding champion, 4-time blocking champion, and all-time leader in points. In 1995, he was, quite deservedly, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Life after Basketball
Once their careers are over, some stars retire and live peacefully away from the spotlight, others can’t stay away from the court and become pundits or coaches. While Abdul Jabbar spent some time coaching, he did not limit himself to one post-retirement career.
He also had an extended career in film and television, which began while he was still playing for the Lakers. More importantly, he has become an important voice for African American history. He has directed and produced documentaries and written numerous books on multiple elements of African American history.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will always be remembered for his amazing feats on the court. He was a giant of the sport whose legacy has cast a long shadow. Both as a player and later as a writer and producer, he has had a huge impact on the sport and on society.