HBO Sports and Mandalay Sports Media recently premiered their documentary about basketball superstar and legend, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, titled “Kareem: Minority of One.”
This movie spotlights Kareem, one of the greatest NBA players in history and someone who changed the game as we know it, as a person, going from his early childhood all the way to present day. Kareem has been a very misunderstood player, always being very introverted and to himself, and with this documentary he is setting the record straight. Detailing his life as a child and what factors influenced his decisions, this stellar documentary gives great insight to who Kareem was as a child and how it shaped him as a person now and during his NBA career. What was great about this documentary is how it incorporated old footage, both of his college and NBA career, and how these shots were woven into the storyline of this film.
It was also great to see his claim to his NBA titles, and although the film wasn’t able to capture the moments for all six of his titles, it did a marvelous job in detailing the story of how he got two of his titles, especially the one where he defeated the Boston Celtics in 1985. But, what was the most touching aspect about this film is how is talks about Kareem as a person and what he was like both on, and off the court. Showing the softer, more intelligent side of Kareem, it is clear to see how the media portrayed him negatively at that time and it is refreshing to see the record being set straight here. All in all, this documentary is a great film to watch, whether you are a basketball fan or not. This documentary isn’t necessarily about an NBA legend but rather the story of a gentle hearted, stoic, and intelligent man who has a heart of gold. This documentary airs on HBO Tuesday, November 3rd, so go check it out.
Q: Can you talk about your relationship with Kareem and how he is like as a player?
A: I don’t see him that often but we kind of grew up together and I know him very well. He is sort of an introvert and not really an extravert but he is a great guy and very, very articulate and very, very intelligent and I wish him luck.
Q: Can you talk about some of your favorite moments in your NBA career?
A: Well, when I played against Kareem, that was one of them. Then playing with some of the greats like Willis Reed, who was my roommate, Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, and they are dear friends of mine today and we still keep in touch.
Q: And what are you looking forward to about this coming NBA season? Maybe talk about your favorite team?
A: Well of course my favorite team is the Knicks because I played for them but I am always looking forward to the season because the players today are so talented. And the game has changed, a 6’6 power forward, Lebron is two inches taller so the game has changed dramatically but the game is great and continues to evolve and now it is a global game. When I was around it wasn’t global.
Q: And who is your favorite player?
A: I got to say Melo. I enjoy watching Melo. But he can’t do it alone, he needs some support. So hopefully they will get some more players to compliment him
Q: What appealed to you most about Kareem as a subject?
A: I think Kareem might be the most underappreciated and least understood superstar of our generation, what he did on the court and what he has accomplished off the court. I think people will have their eyes open after watching the documentary.
Q: And what are you looking forward to people seeing from this documentary about Kareem both as a player and as a person?
A: Well Kareem was very introspective, thoughtful, mindful, and he was able to incorporate things like yoga and jazz and all other types of interest and contribute its present on the court. I think that is fascinating to me.
Q: And any spoilers that we will learn about Kareem that we didn’t already know?
A: He has got some great stories to tell about Wilt Chamberlain. A little bit of a friendship turned rivalry so stay tuned for that.
Q: Were there any challenges in making this documentary?
A: The biggest challenge, arguably, is fitting it into one film. You could make three or five or ten parts to this film and to put 50 years of American history in 90 minutes was a real challenge.
Q: So going off of that, were there any things that you would have liked to have included that you couldn’t?
A: Well, he won six NBA titles and we weren’t able to show them all. And he won 3 titles at UCLA and in his highschool career. And I will tell you one thing that we wish we could have included was that when Kareem was a kid, his first love was baseball and he wanted to be a pitcher. But we didn’t have any film of that so we didn’t get to include it. But the world should know that if it gone a different way he might’ve been a pitcher.
Q: As an NBA coach now, can you talk about how you view Kareem’s game in a retrospective type of way?
A: Well, he was one of the greatest. He scored over 38,000 points, the most ever in history. And I don’t see anyone on the horizon that is ready to make a statement, or play that long, or do that, or be that productive. There are guys who have played that long but haven’t been as productive.
Q: And Mike said that Kareem is probably one of the most underrated basketball players in history—
A: Well, he is. He came along in a time—here is this 7 footer and he burst on the scene. They made rules forKareem. In college they banned dunking because they didn’t want him to have that edge. But it didn’t matter because in his first college game he scored 56 points. What superstar in college scores 56 points in their very first game? Or 30 points in their very first game? He was that great and being tall and being introverted and not being comfortable in being tall and being with the media, I think, caused a lot of media people to have backlash against him and not say nice thing about him. But, as time has gone on, he has gotten his due and I think a lot of it has to do what he has done outside of basketball and people respect him now more than what they would have if they just looked at what he did inside the court.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Q: Can you talk about what it was like being the subject of this documentary and coming out with this documentary now?
A: I think it was time for me to explain myself. Too many people have the wrong idea about who I am and what I’m about. So, I wanted to get it straight and the only way to do it right is to do it yourself.
Q: You are very educated about a lot of issues such as race and everything that you have gotten a lot of backlash for, so can you talk about the significance of this documentary coming out now and what people can now learn about you in this modern light?
A: Well, the only thing from all of this is for people to understand me for the facts and not for speculation. That is something that I will really appreciate. The only way to get it right is to speak it yourself.
Q: And looking back at your NBA career, can you talk about some of the highlights of your career for you?
A: I guess, probably my most favorite moment was beating the Celtics in 1985.
Q: And can you talk about your faith and its impact it had on your career?
A: As far as my faith is concerned, it was a moral anchor for me. It kept some stability for me, in getting into that mind where you think everything about you is good. It gives you something to judge it against and keep you grounded.