Q&A: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Tuesday, April 07, 2015 with No comments
Courtesy of Candace Bucker

Abdul-Jabbar on his Final Four memories
"I played the (1967) finals in Louisville. To me it was a dream come true. Ever since I've gotten out of high school I wanted to eventually play on an NCAA tournament national championship team, so being able to do so the very first year I was eligible was special."
His favorite win
"I would have to say 1968 just because of the drama that went down with the University of Houston."
(Houston and Elvin Hayes snapped UCLA's 47-game winning streak at the Astrodome during the regular season in what was called the "Game of the Century" but UCLA won a rematch in the title game.)
"That was the first time they broadcast a college game in prime time. I guess they got the idea that college basketball could attract a good TV audience and it changed everything."
(The "Game of the Century" was also the first college basketball matchup played inside a dome, blazing the trail for venues like Lucas Oil Stadium to host a Final Four.)
"I feel that the game is that popular now. As they say the 'ol' college try,' just that fervor and enthusiasm makes it special."
Abdul-Jabbar on Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who he worked with last summer
"Yeah, I've watched a little bit. I've been following them in the box scores. I can't figure it out because he's a talented guy, he works hard, he's athletic. I don't know what's going on. I'm hoping he turns it around because he's a good person and he's a gifted athlete." (This season, Hibbert has averages not far off is career numbers but nothing befitting a two-time All-Star.)
Has Hibbert remained in touch?
"I've reached out to him and when the season's going on, he's busy. He hasn't reached out yet."
On if he still aspires to coach in the NBA or college.
(Abdul-Jabbar shakes his head) "I'm getting to be very long in the tooth (he smiles and chuckles). I've moved on, I've had a lot of fun writing and it didn't expect it to be this much fun."
Abdul-Jabbar wrote a Time magazine column against RFRA, which had been amended by the time he arrived in Indianapolis.
"I'm content (with the change) in that they understand there's a problem and they're trying to fix it. Sometimes it takes a little bit of fine-tuning to find the right fix but at least they get it and the attitude that Gov. Pence had has changed and that's the key. Gotta give them some time and space to fix it. Can't be hypercritical. I think there's a good balance there."
Opinion on the RFRA
"It's a little bit over the top. There's no one trying to force people to do something that's against their religion. The way it seemed, the law was structured, it enabled people who wanted to show their disapproval in certain lifestyles the opportunity to do that by letting those people refuse service. … Without any interaction with people who are LGBT or the wrong color or the wrong religion, that's what it seemed. It seemed to have the effect of allowing people to discriminate that way. Once they recognize how that could be a problem, they bridged the gap and it was different."
On the oddity of having scores of people staring at him
"It happens everywhere I go."


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