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May 14, 2008

Gene Block inaugurated as UCLA Chancellor

Yesterday Gene D. Block inaugurated as UCLA chancellor in festive ceremony at Royce Hall.

The pomp and circumstance befitting such a ceremony was punctuated with music and dance representing UCLA's diverse and talented student community — from a gospel choir rendering of the national anthem to a performance by the Mariachi Uclatan folkloric group.

This was my speech:

We are here today because UCLA has a new Chancellor.  That’s a funny title, isn’t it: Chancellor? Sounds like someone who’s running a small European country, wedged somewhere between Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.  Yet, when you consider that this man will be overseeing 37,000 students, 27,000 faculty and staff, and a budget of $3.8 billion, he really is running a small country.  Only this one’s wedged somewhere between Hollywood and our imaginations. 

Because UCLA isn’t just another country.  It’s an exceptional country.  A visionary country.  A country where students come, not just for an academic education, but to fulfill dreams.  They come here—just as I did 40 years ago—to find out who they are, who they want to be, and how they will make the most of their lives.  I didn’t come here just to play basketball, I came here to learn about myself, my community, my place in the world.  Although, I did a pretty good job playing basketball, too.

It takes a special kind of person to take on the responsibility of providing that kind of learning and nurturing atmosphere.  He must be willing to preserve the legacy of UCLA’s past, while insuring the promise of its future.  As someone who has worked so hard to bring some honor to UCLA’s legacy, I feel like I have a special interest in its future.  That’s why I always believed the person running this place has to be as exceptional as the school itself.  Although there have been various renaissance periods throughout history—from Italy to Harlem—here at UCLA there is always a renaissance going on because this school remains at the forefront of achievement in the arts, in science, in scholarship, and in sports.  Naturally it follows that to properly guide this campus would require a renaissance man or woman.  Someone with an innovative vision of the future, yet, who possesses the skills and talent to make that vision a reality. And that’s exactly what we have in Chancellor Gene Block.

A scholar in circadian biology, an inventor holding several patents, a compassionate teacher, a committed administrator, a restorer of high-performance cars, and, most important, a husband and father. I’m sorry that I must now leave this event – The Lakers are still alive & kicking and I must deal with my coaching responsibilities. But I wanted to add my voice and welcome to Chancellor Block. I hope all of you have a great day today and that UCLA continues to attract great leaders such as Chancellor Gene Block as we continue into the 21st century.

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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Kareem_READ The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has joined the popular Celebrity READ poster series. The Celebrity READ poster campaign is one of the most effective ways to encourage people to get a good education, improve their reading skills, and to read for sheer enjoyment.
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.

To purchase Mr. Abdul-Jabbar's poster and to view the entire line of Celebrity READ Posters, please click here. now!

Kareem_jersey Join the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Fan Club
and win a chance to receive a prize from my official store !

Go to KareemAbdulJabbar.com!

ESPN names Kareem The Greatest Player In College Basketball History

Check the latest about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Go to KareemAbdulJabbar.com for more news.


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