Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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I got all A's and was hated for it; I spoke correctly and was called a punk.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.; April 16, 1947) is an American former professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and the 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 more 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.


  • It was my first time away from home, my first experience in an all-black situation, and I found myself being punished for everything I'd ever been taught was right. I got all A's and was hated for it; I spoke correctly and was called a punk. I had to learn a new language simply to deal with the threats. I had good manners, and was a good little boy and paid for it with my hide.
    • Giant Steps, 1983.
  • I'm not comfortable being preachy, but more people have to start spending as much time in the library as they do on the basketball court. If they took to the idea that they could escape poverty through education, I think it would make a more basic and long-lasting change in the way things happen. When we set up unrealistic goals and then don't achieve them, that's another example of internalized defeat. What we need are positive, realistic ideas and the willingness to work. Hard work and practical goals.
    • Kareem (1990): p. 157

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