Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr.; April 16, 1947) is an American retired professional basketballplayer who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. During his career as a center, Abdul-Jabbar was a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), a record 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA selection, and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member. A member of six NBA championship teams as a player and two as an assistant coach, Abdul-Jabbar twice was voted NBA Finals MVP. In 1996, he was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. NBA coach Pat Riley and players Isiah Thomas and Julius Erving have called him the greatest basketball player of all time.
The Harlem Globetrotters offered Alcindor $1 million to play for them, but he declined, and was picked first in the 1969 NBA draft by theMilwaukee Bucks (who were in only their second season of existence). The Bucks won a coin-toss with the Phoenix Suns for first pick. He was also chosen first overall in the 1969 American Basketball Association draft by the New York Nets. The Nets believed that they had the upper hand in securing Alcindor’s services because he was from New York; however, when Alcindor told both the Bucks and the Nets that he would accept one offer only from each team, the Nets bid too low. Sam Gilbert negotiated the contract along with Los Angeles businessman Ralph Shapiro at no charge. After Alcindor chose the Milwaukee Bucks’ offer of $1.4 million, the Nets offered a guaranteed $3.25 million. Alcindor declined the offer, saying, “A bidding war degrades the people involved. It would make me feel like a flesh peddler, and I don’t want to think like that.”
Alcindor’s presence enabled the 1969–70 Bucks to claim second place in the NBA’s Eastern Division with a 56–26 record (improved from 27–55 the previous year). Alcindor was an instant star, ranking second in the league in scoring (28.8 ppg) and third in rebounding (14.5 rpg), for which he was awarded the title of NBA Rookie of the Year.
Abdul-Jabbar has worked as an assistant for the Los Angeles Clippers and the Seattle SuperSonics, helping mentor, among others, their young centers, Michael Olowokandi and Jerome James. Abdul-Jabbar was the head coach of the Oklahoma Storm of the United States Basketball League in 2002, leading the team to the league’s championship that season, but he failed to land the head coaching position at Columbia University a year later. He then worked as a scout for the New York Knicks. Finally, on September 2, 2005, he returned to the Lakers as a special assistant to Phil Jackson to help the Lakers’ centers, and in particular their young draftee Andrew Bynum. Abdul-Jabbar’s influence has been credited with Bynum’s emergence as a more talented NBA center. Abdul-Jabbar also served as a volunteer coach at Alchesay High School on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Whiteriver, Arizona in 1998.
He was one of only 4 players to have started on 3 NCAA championship teams; the others all played for Wooden at UCLA: Henry Bibby, Curtis Rowe and Lynn Shackelford. Along with playing basketball, Alcindor earned a Bachelor of Arts with a major in history from UCLA in 1969. In his free time he practiced martial arts. He studied Jeet Kune Do under Bruce Lee.
Career highlights and awards
6× NBA champion (1971, 1980, 1982, 1985,1987–1988)
2× NBA Finals MVP (1971, 1985)
6× NBA Most Valuable Player (1971, 1972, 1974,1976, 1977, 1980)
19× NBA All-Star (1970–1977, 1979–1989)
10× All-NBA First Team (1971–1974, 1976–1977,1980–1981, 1984, 1986)
5× All-NBA Second Team (1970, 1978–1979, 1983,1985)
5× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1974–1975,1979–1981)
6× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1970–1971,1976–1978, 1984)
NBA Rookie of the Year (1970)
2× NBA scoring champion (1971–1972)
4× NBA blocks leader (1975–1976, 1979–1980)
NBA rebounding champion (1976)
Milwaukee Bucks all-time leading scorer
NBA all-time leading scorer
No. 33 retired by Milwaukee Bucks
No. 33 retired by Los Angeles Lakers
NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
3× NCAA champion (1967–1969)
3× NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player(1967–1969)
3× National college player of the year (1967–1969)
3× Consensus first-team All-American (1967–1969)
No. 33 retired by UCLA
As assistant coach: 2× NBA champion (2009–2010)