Born in New York City in 1947, Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor (Lew Alcindor) was always tall. He was 6 feet 8 inches tall before entering high school, where his team finished with a 79-2 record including a 71-game winning streak. Although NCAA rules prevented freshman from playing during the season, the Alcindor-led freshman team at UCLA beat the varsity team that went on to win the National Championship, beginning a renowned college career that resulted in an unprecedented three consecutive National Championships of his own and an 88-2 record, as well as earning his BA in History. In 1968, Alcindor converted to Islam and in 1969 was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the first pick in the NBA draft. In his second year in the league, Alcindor won fist first NBA MVP award, and led the Bucks to their first NBA Championship, where he was named the finals MVP. The day after winning the finals, Alcindor began publicly using his Arabic name, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The same year, he made his first appearance as an actor, on the private eye show "Mannix" (CBS, 1967-1975). In 1975, Abdul-Jabbar was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he was joined, in 1979, by Magic Johnson. The pair ushered in the Lakers basketball dynasty, appearing in the NBA finals 8 times, winning 5. Abdul-Jabbar earned his record sixth NBA MVP award in 1980. Abdul-Jabbar continued to appear occasionally in film and TV; most notably he had a memorable cameo in the classic slapstick comedy "Airplane" (1980). When he retired in 1989 after 20 years in basketball, Abdul-Jabbar was considered the greatest player of all time. After his basketball career, Abdul-Jabbar was a frequent writer and activist for racial equality. In 1986, he published his first novel of History, Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement. He has also co-written a pair books, Mycroft Holmes and Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, which take the famous character on new adventures. Abdul-Jabbar also produced and directed "On the Shoulders of Giants" (2011) about a legendary but overlooked basketball team from 1930s Harlem. In 2018 it was announced that he would add screenwriter to his resume, as he was named as one of the writers on the series reboot of "Veronica Mars" (The CW, 2004-07).
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Played for four seasons at UCLA, three under famed coach John Wooden
Twice named Player of the Year
Boycotted Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico due to racial discrimination against blacks in the U.S.
Led UCLA Bruins to win over University of Houston in match famously called "the Game of the Century"
First player drafted in the 1969 NBA draft
Named NBA MVP for the first time
Traded to the Los Angeles Lakers
Made film debut opposite Bruce Lee in "Game of Death"; studied Jeet Kune Do martial arts under Lee
Appeared in "Airplane!" as co-pilot Roger Murdock.
Published memoir <i>Giant Steps</i>, co-written with Peter Knobler
Named <i>Sports Illustrated</i> magazine's "Sportsman of the Year"
Made cameo in crime comedy "Fletch"
Announced retirement after 20 years of playing professional basketball
Inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Co-wrote historical book <i>Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement</i> with Alan Steinberg
Served as special assistant coach for the Lakers
Co-wrote documentary feature "On the Shoulders of Giants: The Story of the Greatest Team You Never Heard Of"
Statue unveiled in front of Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA
Began penning film reviews and editorials for <i>The Hollywood Reporter</i>