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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Announced as 2014 Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit Speaker

April 8th, 2014

BIG RAPIDS – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a six-time National Basketball Association champion and league Most Valuable Player, will deliver the keynote address at The Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids on Friday, Oct. 24.

Abdul-Jabbar, a college and professional basketball legend before he became a celebrated author, filmmaker and education ambassador, will speak at the Benefit about the role education has played in his life and how it can positively impact the lives of others. Named one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players, Abdul-Jabbar was a 1995 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. A dominating professional basketballplayer for 20 years, the 7-foot-2 Abdul-Jabbar still ranks as the NBA’s all-time career scoring leader with 38,387 points. He is also recognized as one of college basketball’s all-time greats based on an outstanding playing career for the UCLA Bruins. At UCLA, Abdul-Jabbar was a key component of three consecutive NCAA championships.

Abdul-Jabbar is hoping that his story will inspire others to strengthen access to higher education for young men and women.

Read the Official Press Release (PDF)

Learn More at

NBA GameTime: Kareem’s 30th Anniversary

April 8th, 2014

Kareem's 30th Anniversary

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar joins GameTime to talk about the 30th anniversary of the day he became the all-time leading scorer in NBA history.

Watch on

Why Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Thinks College Athletes Should Be Paid

March 21st, 2014

Top college basketball teams from across the nation are facing off over the next three weeks during March Madness. The highly-anticipated sporting event is watched by millions and generates over a billion dollars, but none of that goes to the players.

Meanwhile, an attorney representing four college athletes filed a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA on Monday arguing that universities should have the option of paying players. “The reality is that it is already pro sports for everybody but the athletes,” Attorney Jeffrey Kessler said in the landmark anti trust suit.

Is it time for student athletes to get paid?

In an exclusive online edition of Crossfire, legendary NBA basketball Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar argues in favor of giving college football and basketball players a salary. “There’s so much money being made and the people who are creating this wealth do not get to participate,” says Jabbar. “College athletes are vulnerable and if they get hurt, they lose their scholarship, then what?”

Read More on CNN

“Airplane!” Stars Promote Wisconsin Tourism

March 3rd, 2014

Shirley, we’re not kidding – pop culture history is made as “Airplane!” stars reunite to promote Wisconsin; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Robert Hays, the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams premiere new aerial ads.

MADISON, Wis. (March 3, 2014) — Buckle your seat belts, put your tray table up and move your seats to their upright positions – NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and actor Robert Hays, stars of the 1980 comedy classic “Airplane!” are taking people on a tour of Wisconsin in a zany new set of aerial flyover 30-second TV ads for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. And in the commercial, Kareem, when viewing the beauty of the state says, “I can’t believe I ever left this place,” a humorous reference to his departure from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1975.

The new summer, fall and winter spots premiered today at the Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism (WIGCOT) and include seasonal aerial footage of Wisconsin along with some new scenes filmed in the original cockpit of the movie. The spots also reunited Wisconsin natives and “Airplane!” writers and directors David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams.

Abdul-Jabbar, Hays, the Zuckers, Abrahams and Otto Pilot unveiled the ads along with Wisconsin Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett at the conference.

“Wisconsin is blessed to have so much to offer visitors,” said Klett. “We’re so fortunate to have Wisconsin talent, a former Milwaukee Buck and NBA legend and a Hollywood star lend their talents to showcase the beauty of Wisconsin in a fun and memorable way.”

For the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, participating in the commercials was a slam-dunk. “I started my NBA career in Wisconsin and I still hold many fond memories of the state and its people,” said Kareem. “It’s always fun to put on the pilot’s uniform and reprise the Roger Murdock character.”

Hays said returning to the cockpit with Kareem was great fun. “I was calm, cool and collected during the filming and did not have to return to my old drinking problem.”

The summer spot will run on local markets and in cinemas May 12 through July 24 throughout Wisconsin, Chicago, Twin Cities, and Cedar Rapids and from late-June to late-July in the Quad Cities. The ad will also air at Milwaukee Bucks games during the month of March. Other summer campaign components include radio, out of home, print, social media and public relations. In addition, Otto Pilot will blog for Travel Wisconsin and make appearances at various events to provide user engagement with the campaign.

As for the directors of the ad, they were more than excited to be back.”We love our home state of Wisconsin and we’re happy to promote it whenever we can. Go Packers! Go Bucks! Go Brewers!” said Zucker, Zucker and Abrahams in unison.

The summer spot is available to download in high resolution and can also be found on the Travel Wisconsin YouTube page. The fall and winter spots were previewed during WIGCOT and will debut in the coming seasons in select markets.

Milwaukee-based Laughlin Constable is the marketing agency of record for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the state as the Midwest’s premier travel destination by executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships. The Department plays a significant role in generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin. The portal for traveler information can be found at

View Wisconsin press release click here.

ESPN to Air ‘Outside the Lines’ Special Report
on ‘The N-Word’ Sunday (Exclusive)

February 21st, 2014

By Tony Maglio, The WRAP Covering Hollywood

The one-hour special welcomes debate from famous rappers and athletes

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The N-word.

Do we have your attention? Good, because that’s what ESPN is going for on Sunday evening, when they air a one-hour “Outside the Lines” special report on what is arguably the English language’s ugliest word.

To cast the special roundtable discussion, which is part of the network’s Black History Month programming, Rob King, senior vice president of “SportsCenter” and News, had to dig deep into ESPN’s pre-vetting to find out who is willing to speak out on the polarizing topic. What he came up with, was a panel spanning music, TV, media, academics and sports.

“OTL” staple Bob Ley will host the special, with guests set to appear either in-studio or via satellite. Guests include: Rapper Common (also a semi-regular ESPN contributor), Dr. Richard Lapchick, UCF College of Business Administration Faculty, and Pittsburgh Steelers player, Ryan Clark.

Also popping up on the live show will be ESPN columnist Jason Whitlock and ESPN personality/writer Jemele Hill, who named the N-word ”Person of Year” in a recent piece. Byron Pitts of ABC News, and TJ Quinn from “OTL”, will appear in pre-recorded segments. Chauncey Billups, Briana Scurry, Mean Joe Green and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will appear in produced pieces.

The intent behind the special report is not solely to attract ratings. (ESPN already does quite well in that regard, and “OTL” is the highly-respected, DuPont Award-winning investigative journalism leg of The Worldwide Leader.)

The goal, as Ley tells TheWrap, is to “have an honest conversation about this word, which is on the third rail of American society.” He added: “We’re going to try and bring this to American living rooms, and American dorm rooms and American bar rooms and American dinner tables in a way where maybe it hasn’t [been].”

Ley specifically called attention to Common’s pre-recorded piece, calling it “Three of the most powerful minutes of television I’ve ever been associated with.” He added, “There is a tremendous reveal at the end of it that is just beyond words.”

Both the topic and the word often come up on a variety of playing fields, in addition to casting shadows over the culture that permeates young athletes. Recent ESPN headlines involving the taboo word include those made by Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, who was caught on tape at a concert using the word in a threatening manner. Former Miami Dolphins player Richie Incognito also openly used the word — among other offensive terms – in what became a very public team dismissal for “bullying” fellow teammate, Jonathan Martin.

The special on the N-word was originally intended to be of the Town Hall variety, airing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but scheduling did not fit that particular format. King believes that the Sunday night Black History Month timeslot leaves the socially conscious program “better off,” adding that the serendipitous change resulted in a “more vibrant time” to have discussion than on Dr. King’s birthday.

“This is a very important, but very incendiary issue,” King told TheWrap. “It involves a lot of care. It would be far easier not to do the show,” he concluded.

The one-hour “Outside the Lines Special Report: The N-word” airs Sunday, Feb. 23 on ESPN at 7 p.m., ET.

Watch a 90-second teaser from a pre-recorded portion, where Teaneck (N.J.) High School student-athletes discuss what the word means to them, exclusive to TheWrap:

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