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Wed, 04.16.1947

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Basketball Player, and Author born

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born on this date in 1947. He was a Black Basketball player (retired) and is an Author, and Good-Will ambassador.

From Harlem, NY his birth name was Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. His delivery statistics were 12 pounds, 11 ounces and 22½ inches. His father, Lew Sr., was 6-3 and his mother, Cora, was 5-10. His father moved the family to Manhattan in 1950. At age 9, Alcindor was already 5-8. As an eighth grader he stood 6-8 and could dunk.  As a sophomore at Power Memorial H.S., he averaged 19 points and 18 rebounds as the team went undefeated through Alcindor's junior season. The next year, for the first time in 72 games, they lost 46-43 to DeMatha Catholic High School of Maryland. He finished his High School career in 1965 with 2,067 points and 2,002 rebounds (both New York City records).

After earning three H. S. All-America selections at Power Memorial High School, Alcindor became part of one of the greatest teams in the history of college basketball. He guided the UCLA Bruins to a three-year mark of 88-2, three consecutive NCAA titles (1967-69) and was the first and only player to be named the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player three times. Alcindor simply ruled the game at the college level, earning the title of College Player of the Year from 1967 to 1969 from The Sporting News, United Press International, The Associated Press and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

Upon the time of his graduation, Alcindor was the Bruins' all-time leading scorer with 2,325 points. In only his first of a stellar 20-year career he played no less than 65 games a season, the smooth and competitive seven-footer was named NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 28.8 points per game and 14.5 rebounds for the Milwaukee Bucks.

He became an instant force in the league, bringing finesse and agility to the center position, which had previously seen brute force and strength as the rule. With superior physical fitness and skill, he joined with Oscar Robertson, to capture Milwaukee's only NBA title in 1971. Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the fall and was named the Finals MVP. Abdul-Jabbar averaged 30 or more points in four of his six years with the Bucks Prior to the 1975-76 season he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where his patented skyhook helped him and the Lakers earn a staggering five NBA championships (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988).

He also picked up another three NBA MVP awards (1976, 1977 and 1980), a record six in total and was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year in 1985. He retired in 1989 on top of the NBA in nine statistical categories, including points scored (38,387), seasons played (20), playoff scoring (5,762), MVP awards (6), minutes played (57,446), games played (1,560), field goals made and attempted (15,837 of 28,307) and blocked shots (3,189).

Jabbar was the kind of (once in a lifetime) player that distinguishes a sport. The basketball world might never again see an athlete dominate the game for as long and as thoroughly as Abdul-Jabbar did. From High School, to his retirement as the NBA's all-time leader in nine statistical categories, the 7-foot-2 Abdul-Jabbar established himself as one of basketball's most talented and recognizable figures. He still works with the Los Angeles Lakers organization.

As an author Jabbar has written several books, they include: Giant Steps with Peter Knobler (1987), Kareem (1990), Selected from Giant Steps (Writers' Voices) (1999), Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African American Achievement with Alan Steinburg (2000), A Season on the Reservation: My Soujourn with the White Mountain Apaches with Stephen Singular (2000), and Brothers In Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes (Publisher: Broadway 2004, co-written with Anthony Walton. It is the history of the 761st Battalion, an all-black tank squadron.  In 2011, his book On the Shoulders of Giants Harlem Renaissance basketball team was made into a documentary film.

To become a Professional Athlete


Kareem Abdul

Giant Steps, The Autobiography of Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Copyright 1983
Bantam Books
ISBN 0-553-05044-3

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