Kareem and Bruce Lee
Found this clip surfing for vintage All Star highlights this morning. Obviously, I got a little sidetracked:
The footage, from Game of Death, gives a great illustration both of the kind of athlete Kareem was, and also the size of his world view. A couple years back, when Andy sat down with Kareem, the Cap talked about his relationship with the late martial arts icon:
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.
UPDATE: I think this comment from The D properly summarizes the Kareem/Bruce nexus:
Seriously, my brain cannot comprehend the unbelievable coolness of Bruce Lee giving Kareem jeet-kun-do lessons. I need to go lie down.