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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: More Than a Basketball Legend

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: An Icon of Basketball and

Social Activism

When it comes to basketball, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a name that is synonymous with greatness. Known for his towering height, skyhook shot and unmatched work ethic, he is considered one of the greatest players ever to grace the court.

But he is much more than just a basketball legend. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is also an accomplished author, social activist, and philanthropist.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the life of this remarkable man.

Basketball Career

Born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. on April 16, 1947, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar first made a name for himself as a college basketball player at UCLA during the 1960s. He helped lead the UCLA Bruins to three consecutive NCAA national championships from 1967 to 1969 and won numerous individual honors along the way, including the Naismith College Player of the Year award in 1967 and 1969.

After graduating from UCLA, he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the first overall pick of the 1969 NBA draft. As a rookie, Abdul-Jabbar dominated the competition, averaging 28.8 points and 14.5 rebounds per game.

He led the Bucks to their first NBA championship in 1971 and won the first of his six regular-season MVP awards that same year. In 1975, Abdul-Jabbar was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and became the centerpiece of the “Showtime” era team that won five NBA championships during the 1980s.

In total, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played for 20 seasons in the NBA, scoring a total of 38,387 points, which remains the league’s all-time record. He was named to the All-Star Game 19 times and won two scoring titles.

He retired from professional basketball in 1989.

Titles and Awards

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s basketball career is defined by a long list of titles and awards. In addition to his numerous college awards and championships, he won six NBA championships with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.

He was also selected to the All-NBA First Team a record 10 times and to the All-NBA Defensive First Team five times. Abdul-Jabbar’s long and successful career earned him a slew of individual accolades, including six regular-season MVP awards, two NBA Finals MVP awards, and two scoring titles.

In 1996, he was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. Abdul-Jabbar was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995, cementing his status as one of the sport’s all-time greats.

Personal Life

In addition to his basketball achievements, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has also made a significant impact off the court as a social activist and author. His activism and advocacy began during his college years when he joined the Black Student Union at UCLA, speaking out against racism and discrimination.

Since then, he has been a leading voice on issues related to civil rights, social justice, and political activism. Abdul-Jabbar has authored more than a dozen books, including biographies and memoirs.

He has also written several children’s books, most recently “Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court.” In 2016, he was awarded the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for a Nonfiction Book for his book “Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White.” Additionally, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, which is considered the highest civilian honor in the United States. Abdul-Jabbar has been married and divorced twice and has four children.

He remains active in both the basketball world and the social justice landscape, speaking out on issues related to race, religion, and politics. In conclusion, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s legacy stretches far beyond his accomplishments on the basketball court.

He has consistently used his platform to speak out on issues that matter to him and has left a lasting impact on society. It is no wonder why he remains a respected and revered figure, not just in basketball but in all aspects of life.

Basketball Career

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had an illustrious basketball career that spanned over three decades. He was a dominant player from the beginning of his career, earning recognition at all levels of play.

High School Career

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, known then as Lew Alcindor, was a standout player during his high school years at Power Memorial Academy in New York City. He was already a towering figure at 7 feet 2 inches tall and quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the court.

College coaches from around the country had their sights set on Alcindor due to his impressive offensive skills, which included a signature skyhook shot. Alcindor’s dominance was evident during his time in high school, where he led Power Memorial Academy to three consecutive New York City Catholic championships.

In his senior year, he averaged 34.6 points and 17.3 rebounds per game, cementing his status as one of the most highly sought-after high school players in the country.

College Career

After being heavily recruited by multiple colleges, Lew Alcindor chose to attend UCLA under the guidance of legendary coach John Wooden. He immediately made an impact as a freshman, capturing the NCAA national championship and earning the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.

However, his sophomore year was cut short when the NCAA implemented a rule that briefly banned dunking. Despite the setback, Alcindor continued to dominate the college basketball world.

He led UCLA to another two national championships in 1968 and 1969, and during his three years at the university, he was named the College Player of the Year three times. By the time Alcindor graduated from UCLA, he had become known as the most remarkable college basketball player of all time.

He left the university with a scoring record of 2,325 points, a rebounding record of 1,367 rebounds, and a field goal percentage of 64.6%.

NBA Career

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar entered the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969, and immediately established himself as a dominant player. He won the NBA Rookie of the Year award and led the Bucks to their first NBA championship in 1971.

However, despite his success on the court, Abdul-Jabbar faced several challenges off the court. In 1971, he converted to Islam and changed his name from Lew Alcindor to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

His decision to change his name was reflective of his newfound religious and cultural beliefs. He continued to face scrutiny for his beliefs, but Abdul-Jabbar remained steadfast in his faith.

In the mid-1970s, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar demanded a trade from the Milwaukee Bucks, citing a desire to play for a team that was situated in a larger city with a more substantial African American population. In 1975, he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he teamed up with Magic Johnson to form one of the most celebrated duos in NBA history.

During his time with the Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar continued to exhibit his dominance on the court. He won five NBA championships and earned two Finals MVP awards.

In 1984, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. He ultimately finished his NBA career with 38,387 points, a record that still stands today.

Aside from his scoring accomplishments, Abdul-Jabbar was also a remarkable defensive player, named to the NBA All-Defensive team ten times throughout his career.

In Conclusion

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar earned his place in basketball history with his outstanding performances and remarkable achievements. From his early years as a high school standout to his dominance at UCLA, and his storied NBA career, he remains one of basketball’s most celebrated and respected players.

His lasting impact on the game cannot be overstated, and he will always be remembered as one of basketball’s true icons.

Personal Life

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s life was not just limited to basketball. He is a multi-faceted person whose contributions to society extend beyond the court.

Abdul-Jabbar has been highly regarded for his social advocacy, accomplishments as an author, family life, and various rewards and honors.

Social Activism

Throughout his life, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been a vocal advocate for equality and social justice. He has spoken out against issues such as racism, religious discrimination, and income inequality.

Despite this, he has also been a staunch supporter of law enforcement. Kareem has shown that one can support good cops while still demanding police accountability and safer communities.

Writing Career

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is also a prolific author. He has written numerous books, including biographies, fiction, children’s books, and articles for various publications such as Time magazine, The Guardian and The Huffington Post.

His literary works have received widespread acclaim and have been recognized with numerous awards and honors.

Awards and Honors

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s excellence extends beyond basketball and his writing, and numerous awards and honors reflect this. In 2016, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

He has also won several NAACP Image awards for his works in literature and advocacy.

Family Life

Abdul-Jabbar has had a somewhat tumultuous personal life, having gone through two divorces and being the father of four children. He changed his name from Lew Alcindor to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shortly after converting to Islam in the early 1970s, reflecting a significant change in his religious and cultural beliefs.

Fun Facts

Aside from his achievements and activism, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has also had several fun and exciting experiences throughout his life.

Friendship with Muhammad Ali

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shared a close and enduring friendship with boxing legend Muhammad Ali. The two first met in the early 1960s and developed a bond that would last a lifetime.

Even after Ali’s death in 2016, Abdul-Jabbar continues to praise Ali’s social advocacy and athleticism.

Leukemia Diagnosis

In 2008, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) and underwent treatment. He has been cancer-free since 2011, and his experience inspired him to become an advocate for cancer research.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired in 1989, having played in a record 1,560 NBA games. He held the position as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer until 2002, when he was surpassed by Karl Malone.

Abdul-Jabbar remains ranked second on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

NBA Scoring Record

Indeed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, accordingly, he holds numerous records. One of his most remarkable feats is being the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, with an astounding 38,387 points.

This record stood for over two decades and is only surpassed by Karl Malone.

Freshman Year at UCLA

In 1965, on the inauguration of Pauley Pavilion, UCLA’s men’s basketball team competed against the school’s freshman team in a friendly basketball game. During the game, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was a freshman at the time, scored an incredible 31 points, having strengthened his legendary status on the court.

In Conclusion

Throughout his life, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has demonstrated his talent and drive both on and off the court. He remains an accomplished author, social activist, and philanthropist, and his contributions to society have been recognized with numerous awards and honors.

With a career that has spanned over three decades, he continues to be an inspiration to many. In conclusion, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is more than just a basketball legend.

He is a social advocate, accomplished author, philanthropist, and family man. From his early days as a dominant high school player to his remarkable college career and storied NBA legacy, Abdul-Jabbar’s impact on basketball and society at large is immeasurable.

His courage to speak out against injustice, his dedication to social change, and his achievements in literature serve as an inspiration to many. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is truly one of the greats, on and off the court.


1. What is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s most significant contribution to society?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s most significant contribution to society is his social advocacy and activism in promoting equality and social justice. 2.

What are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s accomplishments as a writer? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has written numerous books, including biographies, fiction, children’s books, and articles for various publications such as Time magazine, The Guardian and The Huffington Post.

His literary works have received widespread acclaim and have been recognized with numerous awards and honors. 3.

How many NBA championships did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar win throughout his career? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won a total of six NBA championships, including one with the Milwaukee Bucks and five with the Los Angeles Lakers.

4. What is the most significant NBA record held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, with 38,387 points. 5.

What did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar accomplish during his freshman year at UCLA? During his freshman year at UCLA, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored an incredible 31 points during a friendly game, showcasing his basketball talent and paving the way for his remarkable college and professional career.

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