skip navigation
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

How Bruce Lee Changed the World... Get to know the man behind the laser-fast kicks in a documentary exploring the... more info $19.98was $19.98 Buy Now

One Love: The Game. The Life.... They're playing basketball! If you like the way your favorite NBA superstars... more info $9.97was $9.97 Buy Now

The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh... The Dr. will see you now. Basketball’s Dr. J – Julius Erving – operates on the... more info $17.99was $17.99 Buy Now



Also Known As: Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Died:
Born: April 16, 1947 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York, New York, USA Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Widely considered to be one of the greatest NBA players of all time, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spent 20 years with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, helping both teams win a combined six championships while becoming the league's all-timing leading scorer with over 38,000 points. Towering over others at 7-feet-2-inches tall, Abdul-Jabbar used his height and exceptional athleticism to develop his famed skyhook, a shot that incorporated the entirety of his frame and was nearly impossible to block. Able to shoot the skyhook with either hand from virtually any point on the court, Abdul-Jabbar emerged as a potent offensive threat that created both fear and frustration among opponents. While an imposing force on the court, Abdul-Jabbar developed a reputation for being introverted and standoffish off the court, particularly with the press. His enigmatic persona baffled some and angered others, all to the detriment of Abdul-Jabbar himself, who later regretted not engaging with sportswriters earlier in his career. He was, however, popular among fans, some of whom helped him rebuild his extensive jazz record collection after his home burned down in 1983. Because he played in the heart of Hollywood,...

Widely considered to be one of the greatest NBA players of all time, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spent 20 years with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, helping both teams win a combined six championships while becoming the league's all-timing leading scorer with over 38,000 points. Towering over others at 7-feet-2-inches tall, Abdul-Jabbar used his height and exceptional athleticism to develop his famed skyhook, a shot that incorporated the entirety of his frame and was nearly impossible to block. Able to shoot the skyhook with either hand from virtually any point on the court, Abdul-Jabbar emerged as a potent offensive threat that created both fear and frustration among opponents. While an imposing force on the court, Abdul-Jabbar developed a reputation for being introverted and standoffish off the court, particularly with the press. His enigmatic persona baffled some and angered others, all to the detriment of Abdul-Jabbar himself, who later regretted not engaging with sportswriters earlier in his career. He was, however, popular among fans, some of whom helped him rebuild his extensive jazz record collection after his home burned down in 1983. Because he played in the heart of Hollywood, Abdul-Jabbar naturally gravitated towards film and television, memorably appearing in "Airplane!" (1980) and "Fletch" (1985), while making cameos as himself on a variety of TV shows. With his a rehabilitated reputation post-retirement, Abdul-Jabbar enjoyed the comfort of having been one of professional basketball's best centers and arguably its greatest all-around player.

Born Ferdinand Lewis "Lew" Alcindor on April 16, 1947 in New York City, Abdul-Jabbar was raised an only child in a middle class home by his father, Ferdinand, a transit police officer and jazz musician, and his mother, Cora, a department store clerk. Both shy and studious, Abdul-Jabbar grew up under the specter of segregation and Jim Crow, which had a profound affect on him as a child. Reared in a Catholic household, he attended the St. Jude School before excelling at both academics and basketball while at Power Memorial High School in Manhattan. He later moved on to the University of California, Los Angeles, where he played for three seasons at UCLA under famed coach John Wooden, where he was twice named Player of the Year (1967 and 1969) and won three consecutive NCAA championships (1967-69), being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player all three years. Meanwhile, his college career had its ups and downs, while he alienated himself from fans and the press with his enigmatic behavior that was described as cold and distant despite his personality behind the scenes being the opposite. In 1968, Abdul-Jabbar refused to participate in the 1968 Summer Olympics in protest because African-Americans were treated unequally in America.

After winning the first-ever Naismith College Player of the Year award in 1969, Abdul-Jabbar - who by this time had patented his famed skyhook shot while also singlehandedly leading the NCAA to ban his favorite shot, the dunk, for almost a decade - graduated with a degree in history, leaving behind an exemplary basketball career that saw him holding several individual records, including most points in a season (870), highest career scoring average (26.4), and most points in a single game (61). Though offered the princely sum of $1 million to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, Abdul-Jabbar declined and was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks as the first overall pick in the 1969 NBA Draft. After winning Rookie of the Year in 1970, Abdul-Jabbar helped the Bucks win their first - and as it stood, only - NBA Championship the following year. Immediately after the victory, he officially adopted his Muslim heritage and changed his name from Lew Alcindor to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He went on to remain a dominant force for the Bucks, but after the 1974 season, requested a trade to either New York or Los Angeles due to a lack of a fulfilling cultural environment. Abdul-Jabbar was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1975, where he spent the remainder of his career.

Abdul-Jabbar had an immediate impact on the Lakers and became one of the league's top players. In 1979, he was joined by another first overall draft pick, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, and the "Showtime" era of the Lakers was born. Starting in 1980, Abdul-Jabbar helped his team win five NBA Championships, including two over their East Coast rivals, the Boston Celtics. Because of his obvious proximity to Hollywood, Abdul-Jabbar used his star power to segue into movies, making an appearance as the copilot on the ill-fated "Airplane!" (1980), though he often played himself in cameos for "Fletch" (1985) and "Troop Beverly Hills" (1989). Meanwhile, his personal life took a drastic turn when his house burned down in 1983, taking with it many albums in his prized jazz collection. But an outpouring of Lakers fans sending him replacement records helped rebuild both his collection and his relationship with fans. While helping his team to five championships and a number of playoff runs, Abdul-Jabbar amassed a series of all-time records, becoming the player with the most points (38,387), most field goals made (15, 837) and the most All-Star selections (19) in NBA history.

In 1989, after completing 20 seasons as a professional basketball player, Abdul-Jabbar finally retired after years of flirting with the idea. He left the game as arguably one of the sport's greatest players; certainly he was the best NBA center of all time, surpassing the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Moses Malone. But his reticence both on and off the court won him few admirers among the press, leading to an image that he was introverted and somewhat passively hostile. Though he worked later in his career to fix the issue, Abdul-Jabbar found himself regretting his standoffish persona when he began looking for a coaching job in 1995. Though he eventually became a special assistant coach for the Lakers a decade later, Abdul-Jabbar found few takers willing to give him a chance as a high-level coach in the NBA. Meanwhile, he continued appearing onscreen, playing Dr. Skyhook in an episode of "Martin" (Fox, 1992-97) and appearing as himself on "Full House" (ABC, 1987-1995), "Living Single" (Fox, 1993-98), "Boston Common" (NBC, 1995-97) and "Scrubs" (NBC/ABC, 2001-2010). He ran into a bit of legal trouble in 1998 when he was caught with a small amount of marijuana at a Toronto airport. Two years later, he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana in Los Angeles. He later stated that he used cannabis to control nausea brought on by migraine headaches. In 2009, Abdul-Jabbar announced that he was suffering from a form of leukemia that he was able to control through oral medication. As of 2011, Abdul-Jabbar was virtually cancer-free and leading a normal life.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
3.
 Baseketball (1998) Himself
5.
 Forget Paris (1995) Himself
6.
 Slam Dunk Ernest (1995)
7.
 D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994) Celebrity At Party
8.
 Jake Spanner, Private Eye (1989) New Tenant In Sal'S Apartment
9.
 Troop Beverly Hills (1989) Himself
10.
 Fletch (1985)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1965:
Played for four seasons at UCLA, three under famed coach John Wooden
1967:
Twice named Player of the Year
1968:
Boycotted Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico due to racial discrimination against blacks in the U.S.
1968:
Led UCLA Bruins to win over University of Houston in match famously called "the Game of the Century"
1969:
Drafted first overall pick by Milwaukee Bucks
1972:
Received first career NBA Most Valuable Player award
1975:
Traded to the Los Angeles Lakers
1978:
Made film debut opposite Bruce Lee in "Game of Death"; studied Jeet Kune Do martial arts under Lee
1980:
Made memorable appearance in "Airplane" as co-pilot Roger Murdock
1983:
Published memoir <i>Giant Steps</i>, co-written with Peter Knobler
1985:
Named <i>Sports Illustrated</i> magazine's "Sportsman of the Year"
1985:
Made cameo in crime comedy "Fletch"
1989:
Announced retirement after 20 years of playing professional basketball
1995:
Inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
1996:
Co-wrote historical book <i>Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement</i> with Alan Steinberg
2005:
Served as special assistant coach for the Lakers
2010:
Co-wrote documentary feature <i>On the Shoulders of Giants: The Story of the Greatest Team You Never Heard Of</i>
2012:
Statue unveiled in front of Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of California Los Angeles: Los Angeles , California - 1965 - 1969

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute