When it comes to the greatest basketball players of all-time, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar comes at the top of nearly every astute fan’s lists and experts of the game. He alone can boast of being, at one time, the greatest high-school, collegiate, and professional basketball player in his storied career.
Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. (He would change his name after his conversion to Islam) was born in New York City, and he was unusually tall from his birth. By the time he was 12, he stood over 6 feet tall.
As a star high school player, he led the Power Memorial Academy team to three straight New York City Catholic championships. Alcindor e lead the team on a 71-game winning streak, and an impressive 79–2 record. With scholarship offers coming in from all over the country, he decided to attend UCLA.
At UCLA. he played for the legendary coach John Wooden. They went on to win three consecutive national championship teams and Alcindor was three-time MVP of the NCAA Tournament, a record that still stands.
After graduating with a degree in English, he was drafted first overall by the Milwaukee Bucs. For 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association, he played for the Milwaukee Bucks and then the Los Angeles Lakers. He won a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player trophies. He was selected to a record 19 All-Star games. He was a 15-time All-NBA selections and was selected to the NBA All-Defensive Team 11 times.
Jabbar won six NBA championship as a player and added two more as an assistant coach. In 1996, he was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He still holds the record for the most points scored in NBA history.
Not only was Abdul-Jabbar a phenomenal athlete but he’s also an accomplished writer, jazz enthusiast, cultural critic, and activists. He boycotted the 1968 Summer Olympics because of the treatment of African Americans. He, along with Jim Brown, Bill Russell, stood in solidarity with Muhammad Ali as refused entrance into the Vietnam War based on religious convictions.
For his work, in 2016, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.