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Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem

Born: 1947 AD
Currently alive, at 74 years of age.
Nationality: American
Categories: Basketball Player

1947 – Born on April 16, 1947 in New York City, New York, United States. He was 12 pounds, 11 ounces, and was twenty-two and a half inches.

1962 – From an early age he began his record-breaking basketball accomplishments. In high school, he led Power Memorial Academy to three straight New York City Catholic championships, a 71-game winning streak, and a 96-6 overall record.

1966-1969 – After dominating New York high school basketball at the now defunct Power Memorial, he enrolled at UCLA and played for John Wooden’s powerhouse Bruins. Heavily sought by collegiate basketball programs, he played for the UCLA Bruins from 1966 to 1969 under coach John Wooden, contributing to the team’s three-year record of 88 wins and only two losses. During his college career, he was twice named Player of the Year (1967, 1969), was a three-time First Team All-American (1967-69), played on three NCAA Basketball champion teams (1967, 1968, 1969), was honored as the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament (1967, 1968, 1969), and became the first-ever Naismith College Player of the Year in 1969.  Also during his studies at UCLA he converted to Islam and took his current name. The name translates to "noble servant of the Powerful"; al-Karim and al-Jabbar are two of the 99 Names of God in Islamic tradition. He converted after meeting Khalifah Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, a former Nation of Islam leader and founder of a Washington, D.C.-based mosque of the Hanafi Madhhab. He graduated with a B.A. in History from UCLA in 1969. While playing for UCLA, he suffered a scratched left cornea. This would occur again during his pro career and he would then wear goggles for protection. The Harlem Globetrotters offered him $1 million to play for them, but he declined, and he was picked first in the 1969 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, only in their second season, who won the coin-toss for first pick over the Phoenix Suns.

1969-1974 – Alcindor’s presence enabled the 1969-70 Bucks to claim second place in the NBA’s Eastern Division with a 56-26 record (up from 27-55 the previous year), and he was an instant star, ranking second in the league in scoring (28.8 ppg) and third in rebounding (14.5 rpg), for which he was awarded the title of NBA Rookie of the Year. Alcindor was awarded his first of six NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, along with his first scoring title (31.7 ppg). In the playoffs, the Bucks went 12-2 (including a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Bullets in the NBA Finals) and Alcindor was named Finals MVP. On May 1, 1971, the day after the Bucks won the NBA championship, he adopted the Arabic name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, meaning "noble, servant of the powerful one. Abdul-Jabbar remained a dominant force for Milwaukee, repeating as scoring champion (34.8 ppg) and NBA Most Valuable Player the following year, and helping the Bucks to repeat as division leaders for four straight years. In 1973, Abdul-Jabbar won his third MVP Award in five years and was among the top five NBA players in scoring (27.0 ppg, third), rebounding (14.5 rpg, fourth), blocked shots (283, second), and field goal percentage (.539, second). While remaining relatively injury-free throughout his NBA career, Abdul-Jabbar twice broke his hand. The first time was during a pre-season game in 1974, when he was bumped hard and got his eye scratched, which angered him enough to punch the basket support stanchion.

1975-1989 – After a few seasons in Milwaukee under his new name, Kareem said that the city did not fit his cultural needs and requested a trade to either New York or Los Angeles. The Bucks traded him and reserve center Walt Wesley to the Los Angeles Lakers for center Elmore Smith, guard Brian Winters, and rookie "blue chippers" Dave Myers and Junior Bridgeman. While in LA, he started doing yoga to improve his flexibility, and was notable for his physical fitness regimen. He was also a pupil of the kung fu master Bruce Lee, and studied Lee’s Jeet Kune Do style.  The trade paved the way for a second Abdul-Jabbar dynasty as the Lakers went on to become one of the most dominant teams of the 1980’s, appearing in the finals eight times and winning five NBA championships. On June 28, 1989, after a record-setting twenty professional seasons, Abdul-Jabbar announced his retirement.  He accumulated 38,387 points, the NBA’s highest career total.

2002-2005 – He has worked as an assistant for the Los Angeles Clippers and the Seattle SuperSonics, helping mentor their young centers, Michael Olowokandi and Jerome James, respectively. Abdul-Jabbar was the head coach in 2002 of the Oklahoma Storm of the United States Basketball League (winning that league’s championship that season), but he failed to land the head coaching position at Columbia University a year later. He then worked as a scout for the New York Knicks. Finally, on September 2, 2005, he returned to the Lakers as a special assistant to Phil Jackson to help develop the team’s young center Andrew Bynum.