No athlete in sports history compares to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. When you look at his total impact in both basketball and socially he stands in a league of his own. Kareem dominated every level of basketball and he used fame as a platform for the betterment of all people. It’s cliche but there will truly only be on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Today the NBA great celebrates his seventy-third birthday, and here’s a little known fact: Kareem was born on the same day the first ever NBA Finals took place.
Born Lew Alcindor, the basketball prodigy would go on to create a legacy of pure excellence in high school, college and the pros. At Power Memorial (HS) and UCLA Alcindor lost four games over seven seasons… think about that… it’s the definition of unbeatable! All those wins lead to three New York State Championships and three NCAA Championships at UCLA. Leagues attempted to nerf Alcindor’s dominance by literally changing the games rules. While attending UCLA the NCAA banned dunking because Lew was getting buckets too easily. Ironically the dunk ban only made him better – not being able to dunk forced the Bruins star to perfect the sky-hook, Kareem’s trademark shot. The Sky-hook as performed by Kareem (Lew) still stands as the most indefensible move in basketball history.
After his otherworldly career at UCLA Lew found himself in Milwaukee after being selected number 1 overall by the Bucks in 1969. Success followed the young star into Milwaukee as he won MVP awards and an NBA Championship, but more importantly, he found an identity within Islam and changed his name from Lew Alcindor to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. A name is only a name though, and the changes within Kareem were much deeper than what we’re describing so we recommend you do some research on this time in Kareem’s life during the 1960s and ’70s. During that time Kareem was one of the most influential people of the Black Civil Rights Movement too.
Time changes people and the Bucks couldn’t keep Kareem happy in Milwaukee so he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers and took his stardom to the next level. Los Angeles felt like the perfect fit since he attended UCLA nearby in college, and as a Laker Kareem anchored Showtime. The Lakers brand of basketball, Showtime, was flashy, energetic and infectious. Five Championships and more MVP awards were added to Kareem’s collection once he partnered with Magic Johnson in LA – their partnership might be the greatest in NBA History too.
When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired he did so with the most points scored in league history (38,387). His list of records looks like a laundry list, but here are some of the highlights:
- Only player in NCAA history to win 3 Tournament MVP Awards
- Most NCAA Championships as a player (3)
- Most individual league MVPs of all-time (6)
- First player to complete 20 NBA seasons
- Most NBA field goals made (15,837)
- Most NBA minutes played (57,446)
With the movies (joke), charity work and philanthropy Kareem can happily say he’s done it all – and it did it for more people than himself.
Sole Supremacy, one of the best sneaker shops in the game has a saying “Life > Shoes” and that inspired us to focus on Kareem’s life first; but Cap did have a lengthy sneaker career too. For most of his career adidas outfitted Kareem in the “Abdul-Jabbar.” L.A. Gear signed the L.A. great for a short period, but Cap would eventually go back to adidas (and release more shoes).
Checkout some pics of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar throughout the years and take ten minutes to learn more about this titan of basketball… and life.