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Number One

Kareem_ucla_2_2 I’ve been honored by being chosen the Number One college player of all time.  It is a very special honor for me because I have been picked ahead of some of my heroes and many superb collegians.  When I’ve been asked about my status, I have always deferred to Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell as the greatest players in college ball.  They get that acknowledgment from me because I learned so much from the way they played, and I would not have been as good as I was without their examples to emulate.  So a special thanks to the “O” and Bill for the paths that they blazed. 

Another factor has been the more recent trend of college players leaving the game for the professional ranks.  Players in my era had to stay in school or wait for their high school class to graduate college before they could enter the NBA.  That forced us to stay in school and learn the game in a less-intense atmosphere –- something that allowed us to mature and develop a work ethic.  Today’s players miss out on that bonus, and it slows their ability to be at their best when they reach the pro ranks.  But I’m sure they don’t mind being paid the multimillions that are available to them as soon as they decide to go pro.

I’d like to add a few words about the best college game I ever attended.  Being raised in New York, I was so lucky to be able to catch the best college teams at various times in the old Garden on 48th Street and 8th Avenue.  While in grade school I got to see great Providence teams featuring Lenny Wilkens and Vinnie Ernst; Nate Thurmond and Howie Komives from  Bowling Green; and the Bradley Braves led by Chet Walker and Laverne Tart.

During my senior year in high school, Dec. ’64, I attended the Holiday Festival matchup of University of Michigan vs. Princeton.  It was a truly superb contest, with Bill Bradley leading the Princeton Tigers and Cazzie Russell leading the Wolverines.  Both teams were ranked in the Top 10, and the game was exceptionally close.  Bill scored 41 points before fouling out with less than three minutes left in the game.  Cazzie calmly took over from there and Michigan finished with a two-point win over the Tigers.  The Princeton team could not compete without Bill on the court.

For me, that game was the finest example of college ball I had ever seen.  It gave me a great look at what my future could be like if I continued to improve.  I want to say thanks to all the college players and coaches that have given us this incredible sport in which to compete.  Without them, we would be at a loss for our aspirations.  Thank you one and all.

Click here to see at ESPN.

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Comments

Hello Mister Abdul-Jabbar

The picture showing you nearly hitting the rim with your head reminds me of a myth in BB. Since you have so many experiences in BB let me please ask you a question ...Have You seen or did it yourself...touch the top of the backboard ?
I know it sounds stupid and it is not something that would make somebody a great Ball player...and what about Earl Manigault ?
I participated in 1976 in Chappel Hill at a camp with David Thompson (he could definitely jump ! ), I was 18 yo and so far nobody told me that he or she saw it actually...(Dwight Howard was close last year ahah!!!)

Thanks a lot for your very interesting blog
and all the best from Switzerland

Cheers Allways :D

Kareem,

Congratulations on the well-deserved basketball honor. I'm loving your blog. In the early 60's my dad took me to the "Tech Tourney" in Chicago, where I saw Cazzie Russell play as a high schooler. It was the first time I saw basketball greatness. We soon moved to WLA, where I followed your UCLA & NBA careers closely. I also have read your books over the years...a real fan. Incidentally, I'm 56 and still playing BB 3X per week. Do you still play?

Kareem,
So if you were given the keys to college basketball, what would you do to change the current system that only requires kids to stay in college for one year?

Congradulations for the well deserved honor. Would you consider coaching college basketball? Looking at the progress of Andrew Bynum, It is obvious you are a great teacher, and from reading your books your knowledge of the game is second to none.

Kareem,
I always thought one mark of greatness was if the keepers of the game changed the rules to offset that players' excellence. whether it was expanding the key to offset Wilt's low post dominance or the decision to ban dunking prior to your entry into the NCAAs, the powers that be recognized dominance. (Notwithstanding your ability to make lemonade out of lemons by developing your trademark shot)
I agreed wholeheartedly with your selection, not only as a champion but as a player who changed the game. Congratulations on your selection.

Randy R

Kareem, I didn't know you could jump so high!!! Your head is almost touching the rim in that picture!

Hi Mr. Abdul-Jabbar-

I had the pleasure of attending UCLA from 1967-71, so I was able to watch most of the home games you played during that period. You were wonderful to watch, and you conducted yourself with grace and gratitude throughout your career. Congratulations on being honored as the No. 1 college player of all time. I am also a big supporter of Mr. Obama, and look forward to his presidency.

Thanks for all the great memories.

Greets and Congrats on your recent honor! However, you've always been number one with us! Gail and the crew!

Hi Mr. Abdul-Jabbar-

I attended UCLA from 1967-71 and had the pleasure of watching many of your home games during that period. You were an amazing player and handled yourself with intelligence and grace. Congratulations on your selection as the No. 1 All-Time College Basketball Player. I'm also a big supporter of Mr. Obama and look forward to his presidency.

Take care.

-Lance Burkholder
Redondo Beach, CA

Felicidades Kareem. You are a great inspiration to the nation's young baskeball players. Your outstanding credentials and ability to cross cultural lines in your work makes you a role model and hero to many. We love reading your writings exposing historic achievements by African-Americans who are otherwise left out of the history books produced for public schools. You should write such a book!

Ciao Kareem,
I started to like because you wore goggles...then because of your sky-hook, then because you were friend of Bruce Lee, then for your political ideas...

You are the true Renaissance Man.

and I know...I'm Italian

I hope to meet you someday.
all the best from Turin, Italy.

Kareem,
congratulations! well deserved!

Congratulations, Kareem. As a fellow Bruin, I can say you damn well deserve it.

Thanks for everything.

kareem,
congratulations. i knew you were going to be picked number one. when i was a little girl, i loved watching you play for the lakers. you are the reason why i fell in love with basketball and UCLA. thanks. going to ucla was one of the best decisions i've ever made.
marie

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Captain Kareem

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is considered by many fans and sportswriters to be the greatest basketball player of all time. The 7-foot-2 Hall of Fame center, famous for his indefensible skyhook, dominated the NBA for 20 years, first with the Milwaukee Bucks then with the Los Angeles Lakers. Before that he was the star of the UCLA Bruins teams that won three consecutive NCAA championships. Kareem was the NBA's MVP six times, a 19-time all-star and set the NBA all-time records in nine categories. He is the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, a record that may never be broken.

Since retiring as a player in 1989, Kareem has balanced his love of basketball with his love of history. In 2002 he led a USBL team, the Oklahoma Storm, to a championship. Since 2005, he has been the special assistant coach for the Lakers, working with Andrew Bynum.

In 2008 he was chosen The Greatest Player in College Basketball History.

Kareem also remains intellectually active, authoring six bestselling history books intended to popularize the contributions of African-Americans to American culture and history. His books include "Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement"; "Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes"; "A Season on the Reservation," which chronicles his time teaching basketball and history on an Apache Indian reservation in White River, Ariz.; and the current New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance."

His audio adaptation, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Audio & Musical Journey through the Harlem Renaissance," is a four-volume compilation read by Bob Costas, Avery Brooks, Jesse L. Martin, and Stanley Crouch, and features private and fascinating conversations with dozens of icons, including Coach John Wooden, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones and Billy Crystal. He has also been written to L.A. Times, under the Sports section.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been appearing on various radio stations and TV shows, as well as the most relevant websites talking about his life and his new audio book, On the Shoulders of Giants.

All images are property of www.iconomy.com unless otherwise stated. All info copyrighted and owned by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not replicated without permission.

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Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is the 2008 Honorary Chair Library Card Sign-up Month, which takes place in September. He will also appear at the American Library’s National Convention on June 28th and 29th at the Long Beach Convention Center to sign his poster.

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