The 5th of April 1984 is still an exceptional – yet unknown – date in the careers of the greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That year, he didn’t win anything. Just a new quote on the All-NBA First Team. The main thing is elsewhere. At the end of the season, a pivotal Lakers team broke Wilt Chamberlain’s points record in a game against Utah. A record which then amounted to 31,419 units. A sublime moment for the league.
For five seasons, the Lakers interior would continue to improve the mark. In 1989, the applause ended with 38,387 points. Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in turn surpassed Chamberlain during their careers, but the streak that Abdul-Jabbar went through remained uninterrupted. But it seems untouchable since LeBron James can cross it if he averages 15.5 points until the end of next season.
Born in Lou Alcindor
Two decades between Milwaukee and Los Angeles, Titanic’s career began in Harlem. Low (who converted to Islam in 1971) was born in New York on April 16, 1947, two years after the end of World War II. The only son, who is super protected by his mother, but is deeply shaken by a very strict father. Young Alcindor throws himself into basketball to escape from the family environment as quickly as possible. Discovered by John Wooden’s special envoys, he joined the West Coast of the United States and landed on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles. With the Bruins, he won three NCAA titles in 1967, 68 and 69. Twice Player of the Year, Alcindor is on the shelves of all scouts in the country.
The Bucks picked him first in the 1969 draft. At the time, Milwaukee is a franchise with only two years of experience. When the 2.18-meter giant reaches Wisconsin, the big guys start leaving the league (Bill Russell just covered Boston) or grow up, like Wilt Chamberlain approaching the age of 35. The door to success opens wide for a newcomer to the Bucks who starts out with the Rookie of the Year title, averaging 28.8 points and 14.5 rebounds.
Champion in his second year
During the summer of 1970, Milwaukee went from strength to strength with Oscar Robertson and young Lucius Allen. The effect is immediate. In the wake of Alcindor, who won his first MVP title of the season, Bob Dandridge, Jon McGlocklin and Greg Smith, the Bucks were crowned champions against the Baltimore Bullets (4-0). Karim has plenty of time to admire himself in his first episode. He’ll have to wait nine years before winning a new year! He’s certainly a sacred four-time MVP of the regular season (1972, 74, 76, 77) but only with the Lakers’ showtime copy will he know devotion again.
The divorce from Milwaukee came in the summer of 1975. Lou Alcindor, who became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, caused problems among the Bucks fans. We do not understand his religious beliefs. We wonder about his culture, his views and his aspirations. Karim demands trade in a big city. Either Los Angeles or New York. There, tolerance and openness are greater, without being exceptional either. Make a deal with the Lakers. But he’s a bruised man who set foot on the Pacific coast. Abdul-Jabbar lost a home, and even more so, lost his childhood memories in an unexplained fire. It would take a very long time to win a smile from this extraordinary athlete who would win six NBA rings (five with the Magic Johnson Lakers), six regular season best titles and two MVP awards in the Finals (in 1971 and 85), to name a few. example. Except for a few.
The opposite of Magic Johnson
The image will remain blurred. At the height of his fame with the Angelinos, Abdul-Jabbar identified himself as “the fiercest of the wicked men.” Enough to dissuade even the most reckless reporter from going to interrogate him. Between Johnson’s Magic Colgate smile and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s frosting mask, we quickly made our choice. For the magic of light and adoration, for the cream of shadows and lack of understanding. Pat Riley, who coached Abdul-Jabbar for eight seasons in Los Angeles, refuses to judge this extraordinary player who has deposited a letter in basketball handbooks, “skyhook” (rotation of the body in the direction of the circle and a roll of the ball ending its perfect curve in the circle).
“Why the judge? When a man breaks records, gets titles, takes so much criticism and takes responsibility, why do we still want to judge him at all costs? He is one of the greatest players of all time. »
During his last ten years in the league, Abdul-Jabbar won nine league titles. He would be one of the first to take advantage of the show time organized by the Magic upon his arrival in 1979. During the 1980 NBA Finals against the Sixers, the pivotal Los Angeles age was already 33 years old. If he wins the MVP title in his sixth and final season (24.8 points and 10.8 rebounds), he owes his second Champion ring to the rookie rookie. Abdul-Jabbar was injured in the fifth game, and was unable to take his place in the next game. Temporary Magic delivers and achieves one of the best fragrances ever (42 points, 15 lbs., 7 points and 3 points). An injury without consequences for the player’s future described by Irvin Johnson “The most beautiful athlete in all sports”.
He bowed at the age of 42
How do we explain the longevity that will lead Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to play until the age of 42? We know that in recent years, he has turned to yoga and martial arts, while meditation has allowed him to deal with stress before matches. The 1985 final against the Celtics demonstrates perfectly the way Karim handled his meetings at the time. After being mocked by Robert Parish during the first game, passed down to posterity under the name “Memorial Day Massacre” (the Lakers corrected 148-114), Abdul-Jabbar should be satisfied with 12 points and 3 rebounds.
During the two rest days prior to the second match, he follows a specific preparation, in time for the matches, by embarking on a real marathon focused on the work of an inner player. In this game 2, Parrish no longer knows where to live: Abdul-Jabbar plants 30 points on his head, gets 17 rebounds, makes 8 assists and responds three times. The Lakers won 109-102. Needless to say, the Los Angeles hub is crucial not only in this game but also in the series, with Team California winning 4-2. His MVP title. Moreover, the 1985 final is what always shines in the spotlight. He won a final at Boston Garden, which had never happened to him in his career. The year before, the Celtics had brought the Lakers back to their cherished schooling, as had so many other times under Bill Russell.
To read: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar responds to Basket USA readers
If he won two new NBA titles in 1987 and 1988, Abdul-Jabbar would not have been fooled when he retired. The development of American society. You no longer view him as a curious beast. But distrust of this player was certainly separate. “Since I retired, everyone looks at me as a respected institution. Things change…”Laughing today. without leaving a shadow.
We saw him as an assistant coach with the Clippers for a few months in 2000 (considering the Michael Olukandi case…) and then head coach for Oklahoma, a minor league team, in 2002. Back in the Lakers, he was in charge of putting up axes. He’s worked with Kwame Brown, and he’s doing the same with Andrew Bynum. But he was rarely seen talking to Phil Jackson or his lieutenants…little or no interviews, as always. A real lone wolf even if eight years ago, he agreed to answer the readers of USA Basketball!
While transiting through Houston airport a few years ago, we saw Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a basketball player with all kinds of nicknames, buy himself ice cream like a regular traveller before taking a flight to Los Angeles. Alone with his group, like a traveler. Obviously without being bothered by anyone. An odd sequence to say the least. As if this extraordinary player reflects the image of ordinary humans. There will always be a mystery between Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and America, even if today’s award bears his name: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Social Justice Champion. He stands out for a player who has distinguished themselves for his actions for social justice, and he presented his trophy to Carmelo Anthony this season.
Best player titles: 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980
Number of NBA games: 1,560
Job Points: 38387