This Day In History: April 16th
Reigning as the overall top scorer in NBA history, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, spent his 20-year career breaking records for blocking shots, scoring points and winning MVP titles. The hall of famer is often considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time by his peers and critics. Here are five things to know about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar!
- Life Before Basketball. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. (he legally changed his name in 1971) on April 16, 1947, in New York City. He often stood out amongst his peers due to his height and he began playing basketball at an early age. After graduating high school, he played on a collegiate level at the University of California Los Angeles. The UCLA Bruins won three national championships from 1967 to 1969 and he was recognized as the NCAA’s Most Outstanding Player.
- The Stats. After joining the Milwaukee Bucks as the first overall NBA draft pick in the spring of 1969, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was able to finish the season as Rookie of the Year. Two years later he was named Most Valuable Player. In addition to playing with the Bucks, he also spent 14 years with the Los Angeles Lakers. Abdul-Jabbar left the game 20 years after his debut and ended his career as a 19-time All-Star with six NBA championships and six MVP awards. He also ended his basketball career as the highest scoring player of all time with 38,387 points.
- Interests Outside Of Basketball. After proving to be a success on the court, Abdul-Jabbar began making appearances in film and television. He made his film debut alongside Bruce Lee in an epic fight scene in the film Game of Death (1978). Abdul-Jabbar also made appearances in television shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin, The Big Bang Theory and Dave. He even pursued opportunities behind the camera and produced the documentary, On The Shoulders Of Giants (2011). It was based on his 2007 novel On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance. Abdul-Jabbar has published other works such as Giant Steps: The Autobiography of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1983), What Color Is My World? (2012) and Coach Wooden and Me (2017).
- Coach Abdul-Jabbar. Although he retired from the game in 1989, Kareem Abdul-Jabber, stayed connected to the sport over the years. He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995. In 2000, he chronicled his time as a coach on the White Mountain Apache reservation in the book, A Season on the Reservation. He also explored a career as an advisor for the New York Knicks and worked in various roles with other teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers.
- Efforts In Philanthropy. Guided by the mission statement, “give kids a shot that can’t be blocked,” the Skyhook Foundation aims to help children from diverse backgrounds get connected to the great outdoors. It is a 5-day program that was founded in 2009 and allows students to stay in the Angeles National Forest. The elementary school aged participants gain exposure to an environment where nature becomes the classroom. They are put on a curriculum developed by UCLA and NASA-Armstrong Flight Research Center.