Great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar column

Check out this great column from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about the differences between his college experience and, presumably, Shabazz Muhammad’s. Interesting take from a guy who has a unique vantage point. Especially loved this part:

“When I left high school, I could not play professionally in the NBA. It had a rule that prohibited me from playing until after the year that I would have graduated from college. For me to have played pro ball I would have had to play overseas or for the Harlem Globetrotters (which I never seriously considered, because college was my goal). I chose to go to UCLA, which had just won back-to-back NCAA championships. The rules of the NCAA stated that freshmen were ineligible to play varsity. My freshman team was very good, so good that we beat the varsity team in the season-opening freshman-varsity game. So to begin the 1965-66 season, the Bruins varsity was No. 1 in the country but No. 2 on campus. Coach John Wooden had an embarrassment of riches.”

Here it is

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page
  • MichaelRyerson

    With Bazz in the fold we should be more concerned about where the next Lorenzo Mata Real is going to come from.

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    Jon: Nice link, but I also can’t hold in what I truly think of the take by perhaps the game’s greatest all-time player. What I’ve found is that when you get these greats (Bill Russell, Larry Bird and others included) away from the game long enough, they begin to not make very good sense.

    My take on this is Kareem’s graph about what would happen if HIS team back at UCLA would have played this year’s Kentucky Wildcats. And I gotta be brutally honest here, despite my bleeding all things UCLA.

    They would run Kareem & Co. right outta the gym …

    Given, Kareem would have been a load to deal with. But consider Anthony Davis’ wingspan was actually greater than Kareem’s, despite giving up four inches of height, and I think it’s fair to say they would be a toss-up of athletic bean-poles. Kareem with Magic and the Lakers I am not talking about here. I’m talking about skinny Kareem back at UCLA. Kareem thought Elvin Hayes was a beast? Well, consider Kentucky’s entire front line, aside from the rail-thin Davis, resembled at least the bulk of Hayes this year. And then some.

    Now let’s go out to the perimeter, where UCLA would first have to pull their tighty-whitey shorts out of their ass so they could at least move freely on the court. Secondly, it would take years for Warren & Co. to advance from the standing set-shot — often released from about neck-high even into the 1970s — to today’s JUMP shot. Let’s get real here, Kareem.

    And if we do that, then what of the above-the-rim style that the major powers all play with today instead of the ground-bound style of yesteryear — much of which was brought on by the dominance of Kareem to enact the no-dunk rule.

    Consider the athletes and coaches that SWORE back then that lifting weights threw off the shots of basketball players all the way into college. Really? Well, maybe that’s the trouble with today’s bulk on top of bulk when it comes to free throws.

    Because simply put, that was a far different era. Great basketball for then? Yes. Hands-down, no one did it better. But those teams couldn’t have ran, rebounded, scrapped, screened, shot, dunked or competed in any way physically with today’s players.

    Hell, they didn’t even feature the 3-point line back then, which gives rise to even further topics like game strategies, player personnel, spreading the floor for more room inside, etc. and etc.

    And that’s what weight-lifting, genetics, shoes & apparel (under-armour, etc.) and the INTERNATIONAL game has done to what once was a game dominated to the rune of the first 10 national crowns at UCLA.

    Sorry to hear that you inserted foot-in-mouth here, Kareem, when in all fairness, because most of you now are senior citizens, we will never know the truth. Because if you came out of mothball, no one would want to see the broken hips that would follow suit for a modern-day rematch.

    Whatever happened to class, respect, and not saying the first thing that pops to your mind just because it’s Kentucky that wins it all this year? I thought better of Kareem before this article.

    The rest is all a yawn. Of course things have changed. So have cheeseburgers, cars, and TVs. I mean, were computers better back then too, Kareem? Hey wait! We didn’t have …

    Today’s Kentucky 85, Kareem’s UCLA 58 … and I’m being kind.

  • MichaelRyerson

    Without citing the specifics, I pretty much agree with your premise, rocky. With the obvious exception of the greatest baseball player to walk the earth, these then-and-now comparisons just never really work.

  • Johnny Angel

    You guys are too young. UCLA in a no contest over UK.

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    Johnny: You may be old, but you smoke way too much crack.

    Warren was 5-10. He was better known for Hill Street Blues than anything hoops-wise after UCLA. Allen was 6-1, but many believed he weighed only 160 soaking wet. Forwards Shakelford (6-5) and Heitz (6-4) were both under 200 lbs. and played WAY TOO FAR UNDER THE RIM for this so-called matchup of the ages. They all rode the Sky Hook & Wooden gravy train to title after title. You think that would work in today’s game? Wow.

    I’ll even give The Wizard 10 extra points over Calipari.

    That’s all that keeps 2012 Kentucky under the hundy.

    What are you basing your take on besides UCLA unicorns and pie in the sky?

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    Johnny(cont): In case you’ve never really looked at it before, here is the roster showing the exact reason why it is Kentucky, and big …

    G-Marquis Teague 6-2, 190
    G-Doron Lamb 6-4, 215
    F-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 6-7, 230
    F-Terrence Jones 6-9, 255
    C-Anthony Davis 6-10, 220
    6th Man-Darius Miller 6-8, 235

    Note: All 6 now waiting on which teams will draft them. Teague, at the point guard spot, weighs as much and is probably stronger than ANY UCLA player on the floor but Kareem.

    This is not rocket science.

  • Amillennialist

    Rockies, you have no idea of what you’re talking about. Championships are not decided with tape measures, as you apparently believe.

    Wooden’s teams were machines; people today are drooling all over themselves because today’s UK team actually passed the ball and played some D; Wooden’s teams devoured opponents, overwhelming them with discipline, tenacity, execution, and iron-man endurance.

    Specifically, you’re talking about a kid today who may have a decent NBA career against the greatest center (perhaps player) of all time?

    Someone’s smoking, but it’s not Johnny Angel.

  • Rockies Reveals True Colors

    CROCKIES – don’t know if you are just trying to be a contrarian, a know-it-all, or perhaps you have some personal ax to grind, but you’re condescending tone reeks of a mod on BN.

    Note to self: Ignore any future posts from CROCKIES – who cares what this blowhard thinks…

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    Amil: Do I think Davis will be better than probably the best who ever played the game? No. Do I think he could guard him in a game one-on-one and, certainly, in this “matchup” get some help? Yes. You gotta have the horses Amil, and this YOU should know. The supporting cast matchup makes for a hands-down wipeout. And just the look on the faces of Warren & Allen when they see crossover after crossover, wondering what the hell that even was? Broken ankles, everywhere. Then, of course, they get posted up by guards four inches taller and with 30-40 pounds more muscle, explosion, power, etc. and etc. This matchup would be lost, and big, in the backcourt, not the front … And it’s not just a tape measure, Amil, it’s what you then do with it. The lack of weight-training is perhaps most glaring. And please don’t tell me you think the NFL lines from the same era that averaged 250 pounds per man could survive against today’s goliaths? If everything revolves around discipline, teamwork, goofy glasses and thong-like shorts, then why doesn’t everyone put the weights away and go back to yesteryear? There is no one on Kareem’s team who could have guarded Bazz last year as a junior in high school. No one.

    Crockies: The fake handle with no fact or even fiction to back your take up with says everything about you. And don’t get all BN because, unlike you, I’ve never been there and, by the sound of what far too many of you are always spouting about over here, don’t ever plan to. Get a handle, stick with it, have a take and don’t suck.

  • ProbationU

    When Kareem played, they had to change the rules. They went 88-2 over three years. They didn’t lose to a mediocre Vanderbilt team and a decent Indiana team.

    While you can’t compare 2 teams from 2 different eras…it is clear which team was more dominant in it’s own time.

  • Amillennialist


    Of course, the average modern NFL lineman would have a size (and perhaps strength and speed) advantage over the average lineman from the 60s, but unlike football, mass is not as determinative a factor in basketball, and Wooden’s teams beat physically superior (taller, at least) opponents.

    Besides, we’re not talking about average basketball players at UCLA.

    As Michael noted above, era vs. era is an argument that can never be decided definitively because the game can’t be played (just like determining college football’s champion for the last century), but even so, you’re arguing essentially that Johnny Unitas, Gale Sayers, Jim Brown, Dick Butkus, and the Fearsome Foursome would get run off the field by the average NFL player today.

    I don’t believe that’s true.

    Going back to basketball, we can get a sense of how certain players would do against others because of the overlap in playing careers. Do you really believe that Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem, (a healthy) Walton, Magic, Bird, or Jordan couldn’t dominate in today’s NBA?

    Sure, Dwight Howard is physically impressive, and Shaq was a dominant force, but Dwight lacks the skill and will of his predecessors. And I saw a young, athletic, and powerful Shaq face Hakeem Olajuwon, who used his skill and quickness to embarrass Goliath.

    Did they have skill and quickness 60s? šŸ™‚

    This is a fun topic. My main objection was your being rude unnecessarily to Johnny Angel.


  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    Pro & Amil: Fair takes, both. And nothing personal regarding Johnny. I was just poking fun back at him because he brought up the age bomb.

    As per this whole deal, I agree it is a fun topic. But I must re-state that if your takes are fair about defending the past then maybe Kareem and others should have more respect about the present … and the game’s overall evolution — the good and the bad of it.

    It’s like a topic my Dad brought up about seatbelts and car seats the other day. It was over a picture of my little brother and me, both standing on the front seat with our hands on the dashboard while my Mom took a pix of him w/the speedo reading 100-plus mph in his 1970 Olds Cutlass with a 455 c.i. Olds stuffed under the hood.

    Do we really want to go back in time like that again?

  • Anonymous

    A calipari coached team vs a wooden coached team with the greatest college player that has ever played the game. Do we really need to argue this?

  • anon

    Kareem’s teams would have schooled this year’s Kentucky freshman babies in the art of basketball. Whipped into submission by one of the best full court pressing defenses and fast breaking offenses of all time, Kentucky would have been lucky to lose by only 30.

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    Yeah right.
    And Brittney Griner never played with Tonka trucks.