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Talking with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Part II

Kareemabduljabbar_ito7w3nc

As promised, here's the second part of my interview with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Like I said in Part I, so much to talk about, so little time. A staggering array of athletic, intellectual, and cultural significance, to say the least. Ridiculous understatement of 2006: "The Captain" has done a little living. But it's better hearing him describe it than me, so let's get right to it.

Andrew Kamenetzky: In terms of your coaching career, it's been a pretty tough road for you to get where you're at, especially for a guy with your credentials. How hard was it to persevere and believe you'd eventually get where you wanted to be?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: For a long time, I thought it wasn't going to happen. And then I had the opportunity in 2002 to coach in the the USBL (the Oklahoma Storm). And everything went the way it was supposed to be. You win a championship (in the first season). I had never been an X and O guy, but I did know how to keep the team together, keep them focused and do the things that they needed to do to win... That really gave me some confidence that I could handle an assignment if I got the opportunity.

AK: You're known for taking a very intellectual approach to life in a way that's different from a lot of sports figures. Did it bother you to see your communication skills questioned on such a level?

KAJ: It bothered me, but a lot of it was my fault. Just because of my whole history. I was just naturally suspicious. That's just something that I had to overcome. I was always felt that the less said, the better. You can't do that. And getting a head coaching job in Oklahoma really helped me see that... You really see how the coach is the interface for so many things. The team with the press. The team with the public. The team against other teams. You're right there in the middle of it and you have to be able to communicate and lead and make sure that certain things happen. That really made me understand what I hadn't been doing.

AK:  Has it helped you on a personal level, in relationships outside of basketball?

KAJ: Yeah. I take the time now to deal with people. Before, I felt like I didn't have time and I didn't owe it to them. And I know, for myself, meeting certain people that I admired, the fact that they took the time to talk to me meant so much to me. And I understood that it goes the other way around, too. So it's definitely helped me a lot.

AK: Was there ever a part of you thinking, "Okay, I may not be the most verbal guy in the world, but I am Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. All-time points leader in NBA history. I might just be able to bring a little knowledge to a team."

KAJ: Oh, I always knew that. But teams aren't willing to take a chance and spend a lot of money on someone that's going to be a problem. So I had to get to a point where people had confidence that I could do this.

AK: Have you enjoyed it?

KAJ: So far, so good. It's so different now from when I played in it. It's hard to even imagine that the game is like this. Sometimes I think about how these guys would do traveling on commercial airlines. They're really spoiled. But that's evolution.

AK: Does anything else really stand out in your mind as different in today's game?

KAJ: I think the dilution of talent over such a huge area has made it very difficult for really great teams to really get together and stay together. There's just so many teams. Expansion. There's what, 30 teams now? That's a lot. When I was in high school watching the NBA, there were eight teams. Every team had guys on the bench that were very talented and should have been playing. It's gone from one extreme to the other.

AK: Is a head coaching job in the NBA something you're thinking about for the future?

KAJ: I would love a head coaching opportunity. But right now, I'm still learning a lot. It's been a great experience for me to see Phil Jackson at work and to see how he gets things done. That's been eye-opening and I consider it a privilege that he had the confidence in me to give me this opportunity.

AK: What do you see in Phil's approach that's so unique?

KAJ: Just how he makes the mental cohesion of the team the priority. If that's not there, stepping out on the floor with five talented athletes isn't really going to help you. From day one, he builds that, the whole concept of team, of being a unit. That's very important to him and I think that's one reason why his teams have been so successful... He expects his guys to be more than just athletes. You have to be more than an athlete to be willing to sacrifice for your team. For some individuals, it comes naturally. And other guys have no idea of the concept.

AK: When you were at UCLA, did you feel picked on when the NCAA outlawed the dunk?

KAJ: Of course. It was obviously something that they thought would limit my ability to dominate. It didn't help them very much. They gave it a shot... It didn't mean that much to me at all. The shots that I would have dunked, I made into layups and continued to dominate in all the other ways that I could... They thought they were taking weapon away from me. They didn't take anything away from me.

AK: When did you first start using the sky hook and when did you realize it could be such a weapon for you?   

KAJ: Basically, I was in fifth grade when I learned the mechanics of it... And even in the fifth grade, I was the tallest kid in my school. And (I was told), "You're going to be a center. You're going to need to learn this drill."  And (I learned) the George Mikan drill, the ambidextrous drill. So I started shooting it... I played against the older kids all the time. And that was the only shot I could use that didn't get smashed back in my face. So I realized the value of it really early in life. And by the time I started high school, it was second nature to me... It was very difficult for people to guard me, because I was ambidextrous.

AK: It's such an effective shot. Why do think it's become something of a lost art in today's NBA?

KAJ: When I learned it, it was going out of style... 50 years ago. People that have watched Dr. J and Michael Jordan, that's what they think basketball should be. Backing somebody down and shooting that shot... it's almost arcane. They don't think it's sexy. So it's fallen by the wayside.

AK: It must be great to see Bynum chomping at the bit to learn it.

KAJ: Right. And (against Miami), he got that dunk against by using moves I taught him, with his back to the basket. Those are things I specifically showed him. They still work... I was so happy. I was like, "Yeah! That's right." I was happy to see him use it at a time when it got very intense emotionally and physically. Every way. He went to the basics and used it and made a statement. He emerged a little bit.

AK: Can you talk a little bit about the documentary you're working on, "On the Shoulders of Giants," about the origins of basketball and how music and basketball shared the same stage and spotlight.

KAJ: It's still in pre-production right now, so I've been told not to say too much about it. We need to go a little bit further down the road... But my dad was a jazz musician. That whole connection is evident to me, because for the young guys, hip hop is the heartbeat of their generation.  And it's always been that way.... Things have changed, but they really remain the same, at the same time.

AK: Was there ever jazz music ever running through your head when you were on the court?

KAJ: Certainly. A lot of people. Thelonious Monk John Coltrane. Miles Davis... I met all of those people that I just mentioned. In fact, I used to watch fight films with Miles at his house when he was doing his boxing training.

AK: He used boxing to help himself when he was getting off heroin, correct?

KAJ: Yeah. He trained as a boxer and that was what he did to get his body back up... There was welterweight that he really liked. I forgot his last name. His first name was Johnny. He fought around the same time as Sugar Ray Robinson and he always used to call him "little Sugar Ray." And he had a number of films of him that we liked to watch. And going back to my sophomore year, when we won the NCAA... we would talk.

AK: Did you pick up on a mutual appreciation on their end?

KAJ: Yeah. There were a number of those musicians who were big basketball fans. Lee Morgan. He really liked basketball. They'd see me at clubs and we'd talk. And it was just an honor, because I was coming to see them, and I was so honored just to be there and see them perform. Thelonious (Monk) liked basketball a lot. He died in 1982 and he had watched the Lakers win (a championship). He died in September or October, but he had watched us in the spring. And he was like, "That's Kareem. I know him." I had known him since I was in high school.

AK: You've also had a lot of success with acting. When "Airplane" was made, you had a reputation for being pretty serious. Were you surprised that the Zucker brothers thought you could be funny in a movie?

KAJ: I thought it was great to be able to spoof my image. I was serious about basketball because it was livelihood and something that I took a lot of pride in. I was overly protective of that. That's something that was sacrosanct. But everything else was open for discussion or to be spoofed... It was a fun process. The Zucker brothers had seen me play in when they were in high school. So for them, it was like, they were big "Kareem people." It was a lot of fun doing it.

AK: Have you enjoyed acting in general?

KAJ: Yeah, I have. But they don't write roles for seven footers. I've had to (go) to other end of it and trying to develop things. One of my history books, "Black Profiles in Courage," is something I'd like to get done as a documentary, especially for black history month. It illuminated the contributions of black Americans to American life. That's something I'd like to get done eventually. It's still timely.

AK: Did your friendship and training with Bruce Lee help you with your approach to basketball, either mentally or physically?

KAJ: Oh, definitely. Bruce, more or less, backed up what I had learned from John Wooden. The whole thing about being prepared and understanding your own skills. What you have to offer and what you don't have to offer. Channeling to your approach to everything specific. It was just an echo of John Wooden, from Hong Kong as opposed to Indiana. You have to be committed. You have to be prepared. You have to be willing to sacrifice to be totally prepared. To be in shape and understand the nature of competition. And he wanted to do that.

AK: How did you guys meet?

KAJ: I studied a little martial arts between my sophomore and junior years in New York. And when I came back out to L.A., I wanted to continue my studies. So I went to a gentleman that was publishing a martial arts magazine and I said, "Where can I go to study? I'm out there at UCLA." And he said, "Bruce Lee lives out there." And I was a little put off, because I had started the aikido, which is the Japanese style. And Bruce did Chinese style, so I was gonna have to start over. But he said, "No, no. Bruce is really unique, because it's an eclectic style. You should go have a talk with him." I called him and he invited me over to his house. We talked and immediately got be friends. And he liked the fact that I was a trained athlete coming through the door. It wasn't like I had to get in shape. And I was easily won over by the logic and approach to his style. We were friends from that day on.

AK: I had read somewhere that you wore # 33 as a tribute to the age Lee was when he died. Is that true?

KAJ: No. My wearing of #33 was a tribute to Mel Triplett, fullback for the New York Giants... We got new uniforms when I was in the 7th grade. And I was a football fan and Mel Triplett played in the backfield with Frank Gifford. He was basically the blocker. But he was my favorite player and he wore #33.

AK: Over the course of a career, you've reached a rare iconic status and recognition level. How has that been to deal with, on a personal level?

KAJ: It can be tough sometimes. People always want something and they want you to take time with something. And sometimes I don't have time. But I take more time now, even if it has to be where I have to explain that I don't have time. But I appreciate it a lot more now, so I understand that I do have to take the time, because I've affected their lives. There needs to be some kind of exchange. So that's how I try to deal with it. I try to be patient and realize that there's a responsibility there.

I don't have a lot of moments of anonymity that a lot of people that have reached my status (do). Al Pacino can put on a baseball cap and some shades and people won't know it's him. I don't have that luxury... I do a lot better now.

AK: I imagine it's a lot better being able to enjoy it more now.

KAJ: Just to get back a little bit. I didn't understand that responsibility (before). And like I said, I've paid for my lack of attention in that area. But hopefully, things are getting better.

(photo by Reed Saxon/AP)

 
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YESSSSSSSSS!!!

AK! THAT WAS ONE HELL OF AN INTERVIEW!

Right the frick on, brother!

As a Bruin, a Jazz lover, and black belt in kung-fu, I would like to give my authoritative opinion that The Captain is THE MAN!

Thanks for the interview!

KUDOS.

Amazing, personal stuff. You can hear the regret in Kareem's voice when he talks about how he wishes he took more time to talk to people.

It's a great lesson to share with all of us who might not be taking the time to listen, even if we are not famous.

Yeah, Kareem, cool. I thought he should have gotten the UCLA job a few years back, but he's with the Lakers now and I think that's great. Great interview AK.

mike

It's great to hear a legend like Kareem talk about his own journey and personal growth. He seems very introspective and very cognitive of his role as an icon and a teacher and as a human being. I hope one day I get a chance to shake the Cap's hand.

Yeah, Kareem, cool. I thought he should have gotten the UCLA job a few years back, but he's with the Lakers now and I think that's great. Great interview AK.

mike

KAJ reminds me of Kobe as a person dealing with the media and fans. My two cents for free!

Go Lakers!

1-8 Western Conference at the end of the season
1. San Antonio
2. Phoenix
3. Denver
4. Dallas
5. Memphis
6. Los Angeles Lakers
7. Los Angeles Clippers
8. Utah

Trust me this is how it's going to end up
I SAID IT FIRST HERE

I found out a player that is similar to Kwame Brown

Stromile Swift is a duplicate of Kwame Brown

NICE JOB. keeps me busy at work :)

Thank you Kareem. It's great to see you at the games, feels so natural. Imagine my delight at the Knicks game to see you and Magic, and of course Rambis. Kudos to Dr Buss for reminding us of greatness. Showtime is alive at Staples, teaching a new generation that will lead us back to the Promised Land.

Makes me glad we didn't lose Bynum (with others of course) in a trade for Artest. Especially with Kareem teaching Bynum in old school ways. It is master and apprentice, better than four years of college. (Although I agree that kids SHOULD go to college, especially my 13- and 14-year old ballers.) Kareem's legacy will be felt for at least another 15 years on an NBA court. The legacy of his wisdom and work ethic will stick with the kid for a lifetime. (I think it's great that Bynum names Black History before Basketball on the list of what KAJ is teaching him. To me it shows that the kid is a thinker, not just a baller. He's gonna be AWESOME in two years. Kareem incarnate!)

--James

I predict a Laker victory tonight and a significant trade by Golden State (I always hated that name, "Golden State" who gave them the right to represent our entire state? They should be called the "Oakland Warriors", but they're not because they're ashamed to be from Oakland. Uncool.) within the next 8 days.

1 san antonio
2 dallas
3 denver
4 phoenix
5 lakers
6 memphis
7 clippers
8 utah

nba champ... pistons
mvp... kobe
6th man of the year... stackhouse
most improved player.... d west
rookie of the year... take a guess

You gotta dig the Cap.

I really never understood why more big men never developed his sky hook. For someone with size its damn near unstoppable. No one is going to block it and you get a good look at the hoop. Then it dawned on me, it’s a tough freaking shot!! If you watch old film he jacked that thing up from 15 plus feet most of the time, and he also got off the ground while shooting. He was definitely an incredible athlete and probably the most graceful basketball player I have ever seen. I do hope what he says about Bynum holds true and the kid is not only eager to learn, but eager to work hard.

Thanks for the great interview.

Do you think the Cap could teach the sky hook to Darko Milicic?

James Mason,

That's EXACTLY what it is good old fashioned martial arts master and apprentice.

Personally, I'd rather be under direct tuteledge of one of the top three centers of all time than playing basketball in college. (Though I agree with you and the new rule about players now having to attend college before going to the NBA. Overall, its much better for the game.)

It does feel good to see Kareem again on the sidelines. Natural. Perfect word.


Thanks everyone for the nice words. I appreciate it quite a bit.

AK

The only person on this team that I would deal right now is Slava, because his contract expires and that’s valuable and he’s not going to play anyway. I thought about giving up Devean, but besides Kobe he has the most experience in the triangle and that’s important for a bunch of young guys trying to learn it.

I came to this realization after reading about the Minny-Boston trade and the Artest deal. We are not going to contend this year. We are not going to contend next year. What we can hope for is development by this young squad and hope we get better. I think making a trade just to make a trade would be counter productive. Phil Jackson teams are notoriously better in the second half, and if we improve by 3 wins that gets us to 47 for the year and a playoff spot. I know we have the one first rounder (Miami’s) but shouldn’t we have a couple second rounders (Charlotte’s for Rush and Jones)? If we do they are going to be early second rounders because the Bobcats have a bad record. The word is this next draft lacks superstars but is really deep in talent. I’m just saying I think we should ride this thing out, let Kareem work with Bynum and Bynum with a weight trainer in the offseason, and scare the crap out of someone in the playoffs.

By the way, is it just me or does Phoenix scare you more than the Spurs?

THE THREE TEAMS THAT THE SCARE THE HELL OUT OF ME WHENEVER THE LAKERS PLAY ARE

SUNS

PISTONS

SPURS

I disagree with you AZ, I think that the Lakers are going to compete for the championship next year. I think we're going to be stong in the playoffs this year but not quite to the Western Confernce Finals, (maybe, you never know) but next year watch out. Right now Phoenix is the scariest team in the West. But as the 2nd half of the season gets going and teams start to fine tune there games we'll see how is the real deal in the league for this year.

mike

Gotta love the Cap, I think its great the way he met Bruce Lee.

The Lamar Show,
The Mavs and the Spurs can't be #1 & 2. They're from the same division. Top 3 are division leaders -most likely Spurs or Mavs (midwest), Suns (pacific) and a toss up in the north west - then the best record thereafter. And your prediction has us playing the Suns in the first round, OUCH. I also wouldn't under estimate the Grizzlies. I love the fact that you think we'll finish 5th but realistacally that would kill us because we'll definetly be playing either the Spurs or the Mavs in the first round.
My prediction is somewhat similar to Kev:

1. Spurs or Mavs
2. Suns
3. Denver
4. Mavs or Spurs
5. Memphis
6. Lakers
7. Queens
8. Clippers
(can 4 teams from the same division make it?)
First round Lakers vs. Denver.

I can't wait for tonight I had the Tivo set up since Sunday

--Scott

Andrew Z,

I agree. Well-thought out.

And, yes, Phoenix does scare the crap out of me. When I looked at San Antonio at the beginning of the year, they scared the crap out of me ("Their roster is so deep!), but they don't seem as intimidating now. With injuries and whatnot, they seem to have lost something that goes deeper than talent. They've lost their edge.

Dallas doesn't scare me either.

We could do some damage in the playoffs, but I don't think we can get past Phoenix. If we do, it would be amazing.

that was great interview. kareem is my second favorite player after lamar.

and stupid khan you better not use my name anymore.

I am tired of defending lamar skills. tell me a player who looks better when running over player. I just wish it was me in the front. I know it is a dream but so is lamar.

Great Interview with the Cap.

Kareem should go down as the greatest Center of all time. I know Wilt and Russ were legends and Diesel is (or was) an unstopable force, but nobody showed the consistent productivity that Cap did. For 20 years he was a guarnteed 20 and 10, now that's impressive. Hope he gets Bynum to shave his head, put on some goggles, and wear some old school Addidas low cuts. That would rock!

Lakers will squeak in 50 wins this season. Looks for Mihm and Parker to continue to improve, and Kwame and Lamar - lets just hope they get it together.

Rence

Kobe Bryant's Theme Song

One Republic- Apologize

AK,

Excellent article and excellent interview. My hope is that someday Kobe will read it. There is a lot to be learned from Cap.

What I've learned from this whole "81" episode is that the national media has a really skewed view of Kobe. I can tell from reading the articles, positive or negative ones, whether they actually watch the games.

They give Kobe way too little credit on his basketball smarts.

I hear "How many points is Kobe gonna score tonight?", and if you watch any games at all, you know Kobe's first priority is to win the game. Yeah, if he's on the court when the game is no longer in doubt, he'll have some fun, but that's why a lot of people love his play - he knows how to entertain AND win.

That's a Dedication to Kobe

devean george just isnt a very smart player. ive never liked him ever since he got drafted. but this year may be the most i've enjoyed him out on the court because of the lack of talen on this team. i cant believe i am actually relieved when i see devean out there. normally i would scream at the tv telling phil to sit him bakc on the bench.

im glad this will be his last year. im hoping mitch doesnt pull another mitch and give him another contract. if anything i would only allow him to come back for the minimum.

devean george cant dribble, and he is out of control at times. hes very athletic and can block shots and occationally hit the open jumpshot, but hes just not a very smart player. how many times have we seen him on the break and run or jump over someone for a charge? i hate how he passes up the open jumpshot only to get a few steps inside for those leaners.

as for bynum, the kid needs to hit the weights. im looking forward to seeing him after an offseason in the weightroom. hopefully kareem keeps working with him during the offseason as well. cuz god knows bynum needs it. if hes hungry for it, he'll pass up summer vacation to improve his game.

Hey great work getting the interview with the Captain for us to enjoy! Thanks!

Real quick, I just want to mention one thing A.K. about your trade scenario's (sorry to beat a dead horse but I missed that post). If you feel that you would trade Kobe for any of the guys you mentioned, that's fine and it only an opinion, and you stated clearly why you felt that way, which is good. All I ask is this, if Kobe was Jordan, and the same age as he is now, would you of traded HIM for those same players? If not, I don't see how you could trade Kobe.

Anyway thanks for the feedback. P.S. B.K., how you doing man?

AK/BK
Thanks for the interview with the Capt. It was really cool to get the chance to a little insight, to not only one of the all time great basketball player but one of the trully smart atheltes of any sport. Its just a shame that we have Lakers that wont take advantage of the knowledge that he has to offer them.

It's getting close to game time. I encourage my fellow Laker fans to pay attention to the spurts of the game. Let's see how Kobe responds to one of his spurts, if he'll over shoot or if he'll recognize when his spurt is over and play a disciplined game by going back to the triangle. This should play out between 3 or 4 times during the game. It should also be the difference between an 10-15 point win or close game. It's all on Kobe's ability to recognize and make the adjustment.

mike

Blog to you after the game.

mike

the lamar show, was that you I just saw walking with lamar when he got out of limo. you guys looked good together though. I like the part when you were holding his hands. I am jealous dude.

I usually just lurk here, but I had to pop out and say that was a fantastic interview. I've enjoyed all the interviews so far, but this was the best (so far).

Great job.

halfway through the 1st quarter:

Kobe has created an assist attempt 5 times.

result:

2 field goals, 2 missed shots, 1 offensive foul.

1qt. props to Smush. Nice offensive aggression.

mike

Kobe's new license plate will read:
DAGR81

i like Kobe's game right now playing the warriors his teammates are playing great good defense. I don't have to work as hard that's good kobe deserves a rest kobe's only going to have around 20 points tonight I'm glad.

man those damn clippers are making a surge!

Kobe and the lakers lost already Kobe's having a horrible game His teammates are suffering out there.


"I only speak the Truth"

Kobe needs to step up right now.


"I only speak the truth"

GO KOBE!!!!! AK/BK NICE INTERVIEW. LAKERS DOWN BY 4 60-56 KOBE ONLY 5 POINTS.

The game is over. The Lakers lost to a pathetic GS team The Lakers are disappointing.

"I only speak the truth"

Ahh Kobe turn over!!!

We're lucky we're in OT.

Yeah, those Clippers are holding there own. Brand; man is he playing like an all-star.

mike

Okay friends. I am sitting here and watching this game against "the warriors" and thinking to myself I hope these KB8 critics are watching this game. Kobe went out of his way to nit try to take this game over early as he tends to do after a big game, and we got our buts killed in the 3rd. Its is apparent that Kobe absolutely must take over in order for these Lakers to be effective. Its either he steps it up of we lose. The role players on the Lakers do not have the ability to sustain consistant play for 4 quarters. That has nothing to do with Kobe but everything to do with Mitch K. Kobe has just sigle handily sent this team into OT when they were getting totally smashed the second half of this game. I am not a Laker flunkie and I consider myself to be pretty darn praticle on most matters but I cannot ignore the obvious, Kobe is the Lakers and without him this team would be 20 games below .500 not three games over. If that does not make an MVP what does. Nash is cool, but a Shawn Marion Lamar Odom is not. On that note could you imagine if we had Marion on the block cleaning up all of Kobe's misses. That guy gets 20/game all on hussle. Kobe just hit another 3 pointer to seal the deal. Wow, thats impressive. I am happy the Lakers are doing well but they will get demolished on Sunday by an amazing Pistons team.

Lamar Odom 7 TURNOVERS AND 3 ASSISTS!!!!!@#
THE LAMAR SHOW WHY DO YOU EVEN LIKE LAMAR?

gosh so many idiots on this blog think the Lakers are getting KG, ELton Brand, etc. next year. how stupid can you be?

the lakers are going to get Chris Bosh next year. That is all. NO KG NO ELTON BRANd NO JASON WILLIAMS. Period end of discussion.

Yes we got the close win 106-105 not a pretty game but a Win is a Win!

wow Memphis is really slipping.. I think It's between The Lakers or Memphis for the 6th Playoff seed

the clippers are on a roll as much as I dislike them.

Wow, and not in a good way. A win is a win but why must we play down to another teams level?

mike

THE LAKERS WON BY ONE IN OVERTIME, KOBE 30 POINTS 5 REBOUNDS AND 8 ASSISTS IN 7-22 SHOOTING. WHO CARES. ALL THAT MATTERS IS THAT WE WON RIGHT?

GO LAKERS

KOBE FOR MVP!!!!!

That was UGLY. Oh yeah, I remember now, that's what happens when Kobe passes the ball. I was thinking back on the report card y'all posted. Tonight's game would ruin the curve, Kobe B+ with the rest a soid D or should I say no D.

Giving the Cap a forum was long overdue and a great read. His life of pure athletic and intellectual pursuits is one that's extinct in this version of the NBA. I always heard that he had trouble with migraines, anybody know if that's still the case?

Jon K,

Just apply for a job with the Lakers Blog. Obviously we all love the Lakers. Whenever I read it, I know that Jon K will be the first to post and the first to have his lips clean for buttkissing. I haven't contributed - only read. I appreciate your thoughtful posts but your immediate response and kiss up ways are only to try and get attention. Such as, Kareem now knows Jon K for being the first to BK on the Laker's Blog. You may as well help the blog by getting your own interviews. I would bet you have more posts than the two authors - combined.

-Mike

Nice, Kareem is great because he did it his way and answered to no one outside the coaches. Shaq should have learned the skyhook.

Again, thank you AK for a great interview with KAJ. I think Coach Wooden has a great influence on KAJ as a player and as a person. They have set the NCAA record of consecutive championship. He has raised the standard of tutelage to the level of Wooden, so during his time, he was snobbish and suspicious of people. Being a tall Superstar, he could not hide his identity and keep privacy. People and fans could always spot him, have a photogragh with him, a signature and even a relic of recognition of being with KAJ. Being a jazz lover and an artist, he could not express the serenity of being alone. From that time on, he avoided the limelight and get into legal trouble with fans who took pictures of him.
AK When you replied my blog,I was thinking again on incidents of possible feud with Magic, now I remember a situation where he demanded a face-to-face meeting with Jerry Buss. He felt that he was being ignored and disrespected by the Laker organization. They were not giving what was due him. I don't know whether it was Earvin's presence or KAJ contract was being overshadowed by Earvin that affected his ire. Jerry Buss assured him that he was still the Captain of the team.
Besides setting the record of the highest score ever made, he also set the consecutive double digit scoring for a great number of years. With regards to the Lakers tonite, Chris and Kwame have a tendency of being careless with their shooting. It is either they are reluctant to shoot or lack of focus when they are in the air? If they're "binoculars" they should clean their lens regularly and adjust their focus towards the subject. A missed shot under the basket is equivalent to a turnover that leads to frustration.

Great interview. I always thought kareem had so much knowledge and experience to give back to pro basketball and it's really nice to see that he's finally being given a real chance to contribute again to the Lakers.

What the critics don't realize is that this Laker team is really young. They're so inconsistent and make stupid mistakes. Sometimes they have horrible stretches for maybe minutes, sometimes quarters, sometimes halfs, and as it was in the case of the toronto game, for entire games. Tonight the lakers stunk it up in the 3rd quarter. Kobe bailed em out once again. Kobe can pass the ball all he wants, but if the guy at the end of the pass can't put the ball in the basket then what good was that pass? Maybe Kobe should give his teammates a longer leash, but moral victories don't count for W's and seriously if this team wants to win now, then that leash needs to be even shorter.

Great interview, but does anyone else think Kareem looks like a zombie in that pic?? Scary...

Guys,
I pride myself on interviewing. I teach interviewing to 100 writing students a semester. I know a great interview when I read one. That was one fine interview. Just one of many reasons this blog has it going on. Hats off and congratulations. And likewise for Kareem. If you interviewed him as a player and then got the opportunity to interview him in recent years, you can appreciate what an effort he has made to see things differently. It's not an easy thing, to be Kareem. Every human can only hope to grow as he has.

Roland Lazenby
author of The Show

Dear "The Truth"

Nothing to say?

Suddenly the old guys, Phil and Kareem, are talking about jazz and basketball, and not just jazz, but specifically Miles and Coltrane, who transformed the music 50 years ago. Miles was probably the most successful jazz musician in history and one of the most influential (along with Coltrane), but critics hated him and criticized him in his heyday (the late 50s, early 60s) because:

1) he'd walk off the stage during the other dudes’ solos (out of respect for them and their music) and didn't seem to be a "team player" (i.e. a team entertainer; like Louis Armstrong)

2) his private life wasn't all that “admirable” (i.e. maintstream).

Does that remind you of anything?

According to an article in today's LA Times, Phil Jackson compared Kobe's "solos" to Coltrane's. Trane was criticized by many people (including Miles) for being selfish and monopolozing the solos. Does that sound familiar?

Trane was also the single most influential man on his instrument. He invented a style of music -- more than that, a musical universe -- that is still dominant within jazz, a style built out of a highly personal form of expression that didn't exist before him and could only have been built out of his "selfish" explorations within a very tight group that respected his genius and deferred to it. The great pianist McCoy Tyner would stop comping shortly after the beginning of Coltrane’s long solos and leave him alone to continue with Jimmy Garrison (bass) and the legendary Elvin Jones on drums. Then Garrison would drop out and Trane would play on alone with Elvin.

This is a great artistic tradition that Phil Jackson knows about, but not surprisingly he’s taken Miles’ position: criticism mixed with respectful admiration.

It's the philistines that amaze me. Artists who dare to impose their unique talent and genius (Miles, Coltrane and Kobe) are criticized, even vilified when they are in their prime and making their greatest contribution. Then 20 years they are universally celebrated and turned into historical monuments (think Muhammed Ali, also).

I was at UCLA with Kareem (aka Lew) and used to see him around (couldn’t miss him!). I first saw Coltrane in a concert at UCLA where he did everything I described above. I’ve always felt a strange affinity between Coltrane and Kobe (though Mickael Pietrus actually looks like Coltrane!). I know the young guys don’t like jazz, but Kareem knows that’s where their roots are.

Uhh, this... was garbage.

I remember an old riddle about 2 guys; one only lies and one only tells the truth. Well this blog's analogy to that riddle is the poster named "the truth" - apparently he NEVER tells the truth, and should be ashamed to ever post with that nick again. LOL!

IMHO last night's game was a perfect demonstration of why the Lakers should trade Lamar (and re-sign D George).
Anyway, great interview AK - I wasn't around for showtime but reading what KAJ has to say makes me that much sorrier I missed it. love this blog - I am now hooked on it as much as I am on watching the Lakers!

It was interesting to see Kareem mention doing the "George Mikan drill" when he was young. Brings back memories of watching George Mikan putting on a hook shooting exhibition during the half time of an NBA game many years ago. He was retired at that time, but he made shot after shot both left and right handed - all from out at the free throw line. I don't remember seeing him miss, and I was very impressed. Another great hook shot artist was Cliff Hagan, who played for the old St. Louis Hawks. He was only about 6' 4" tall, but he had enormous hands, and would often throw up ( and make ) long range hook shots. One reason given for not seeing more hook shots - coaches want their big men attacking the basket to get rebounds on missed attempts. Taking a hook shot often takes one away from the basket. Therefore, unless one hits a high percentage ( like Kareem ) it is not really a great shot to be taking.

Roger

THE TRUTH

so u only speak the truth? lakers lost to golden state? kids these days...

AK,

Once again I just want to say thank you for giving us Laker fans great interviews, good topics, and even just random things to talk about. This Blog helps me keep up with the Lake Show, even though I live in NYC. Once again, THANKS

Thanks for the interview with Karem.

AK and BK,

Thank you for a great blog and the usual fine interview, especially this recent one with the 'Big Fella.'

It's also great to see Kareem ingratiating himself more in the Laker family and the Association overall. It's ashame that his aloofness and enigmatic traits over the years had precluded him from securing an NBA head coacing job today.

AK, do you know if the Buss family is contemplating some kind of an homage for the Big Fella in the foreseeable future. I think Kareem is overdue for a replica statue of himself, outside of Staples Center, doing his patented skyhook for which he's so widely acclaimed.

man, can't remember when there wasn't KAJ, except when there was Lew Alcinder-- and folks tell me about how Jordan was the best of all times, adn I wonder if they ever stopped to consider the giant... and the players of his past, Big Bad Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Lenny Wilkens... and then I realize that they were born in the 80's and didn't know Coach Wooden or how UCLA steamrolled over collegiate basketball game after game-- and certainly they'd never recall when the dunk got banned. totally incredible man who came on the court with goggles and set an example for others to follow. too bad so many athletes really can't follow his record or example. they're too busy getting busted for drugs and vehicular homicide or hustling shoes and flinging bling to be so serious about their playing-- so long as they get outrageous paychecks--

really dedicated professional-- totally amazing player

Please ask Kareem about the hatha yoga he takes or studied
during his playing time.

great interview! i still hate the lakers, they suck and wont make the playoffs. there are a bunch of selfish (kobe ball-hog) cry babies losers.

KOBE MVP no question....

Clippers blog?

What's up guys Love the Blog great way for us Laker fans on the east to keep up with the team. Loved the interview with Cap. Do you guys think when PJ's contract is up Dr Buss will give Cap a shot?

Mike Hawk,

Go screw yourself. I don't kiss up to anyone.

If I show thankfulness or enthusiasm on this blog it is simply because I am honestly enthusiastic or thankful for something I've read here.

Period.

I'm a fan.

I really just want to send him a magazine from 1967 that highlights him as a sophmore at UCLA. I read a lot of old magazines and came across his article. I googled him as "Lew Alcindor" to see what became of him ~I was very curious, and hoping this great "kid" had a great life since then... ANYWAYS, I do not follow sports but AM very aware of who Kareem is, as I remember him from my teen years to my current years due to his good works toward humanity. What a GREAT man~ I am very happy that "Lew" has such a great life.
Sincerely, Debra Ackley

go suns

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Suns

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Nash And suns!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you for interviewing a LAKER LEGEND & what a hero he was to me a kid in the late 70's & early 80's.

How do I get part one of your interview with Kareeem?


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