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Black History Project Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 2655 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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On April 16, 1947, Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. was born in Harlem to Cora Lillian and Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Sr. Who knew that he would grow up to be one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the NBA. He is more recognized by his changed name, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar was raised in Manhattan and did not live a wealthy life. His mother, Cora Lillian, worked as a department store price checker and the father, Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Sr., was a transit police officer and a jazz musician. He weighed at 12 pounds and 10 ounces at birth and was twenty-two and a half inches long. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kareem_Abdul_Jabbar) His grandfather was of Trinidad descent and was 6’8″ tall and his father was 6’2″ tall. Even his mother, who was of Cherokee descent, was 5’11” tall.

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His parents raised him to be Catholic (however he later converted to Islam) and he was enrolled in St. Jude’s Elementary in Washington Heights. He was one of the only two African Americans in the grade school. Abdul-Jabbar was then transferred to Holy Providence Boarding School in Cornell Heights, Pennsylvania in the fourth grade. The student population in the school numbered only 40 male students, all of whom were African American. Abdul-Jabbar was a hardworking child and an honor student, which made him seem unlikeable by other students. He hardly fit with the crowd in school so his parents brought him back to New York City when he completed the fourth grade. (http://sports.jrank.org/pages/23/Abdul-Jabbar-Kareem-Childhood-Big-Man.html)

Abdul-Jabbar considers many people to be his heroes and inspired him to pull through whenever he went through tough times. When he was a boy, he and his mother used to listen to baseball on the radio. His favorite team was the Brooklyn Dodgers and his favorite player was Jackie Robinson who ended almost sixty years of segregation in sports. Abdul-Jabbar admires his courage, grace, and patience the most because it inspired him to utilize those qualities not only in daily life, but as well as when he entered the realm of professional sports. (http://kareemabduljabbar.com/giantspages/favspages/heroespages/02bjrobinson) Other heroes that have helped Abdul-Jabbar through his times of hardships include Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (http://kareemabduljabbar.com/giantspages/favspages/kajheroes)

Abdul-Jabbar got hooked on to basketball at a very early age. In Manhattan, Abdul-Jabbar spent his time with his friends playing basketball at a local playground called the Battlegrounds at Amsterdam. At Holy Providence, he also spent time during recess periods playing peach-basket basketball. He improved greatly playing on the courts of Philadelphia and when he finished the eighth grade he was well-respected in the sport. His frame, at the time, of 6-feet-8-inches provided a great advantage towards other players he faced. He was able to go to Power Memorial High School by scholarship in 1962, where he played for the varsity team for four years. Abdul-Jabbar led the varsity team with the influence of Coach Jack Donahue to a 78-1 record and two national championships. He made the all-city team for each of his four years of high school, and there he set a New York City record for the most points scored by a high school player, as well as the most rebounds. (http://sports.jrank.org/pages/23/Abdul-Jabbar-Kareem-Childhood-Big-Man.html)

Also with a scholarship of his choice, Abdul-Jabbar played for the UCLA Bruins from 1966 to 1969 under Coach John Wooden. Abdul-Jabbar led the Bruins to a three-year record of an outstanding 88 wins and only two losses. He acquired many accolades in his college career which made him very noticeable and recognizable to other players and teams. He was awarded Player of the Year twice for 1967 and 1969, three-time First Team All-American, played on three NCAA Basketball champion teams, honored as the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament three times, and became the first-ever Naismith College Player of the Year which was renamed as the Oscar Robertson Trophy. Abdul-Jabbar became the only player to win the Helms Foundation Player of the Year. The most well-known college game of Abdul-Jabbar was on January 20, 1968 when he and the UCLA Bruins competed against the Houston Cougars in the first-ever nationally televised regular season college basketball game. At the Houston Astrodome, over 50,000 fans witnessed the event live as Houston managed to defeat UCLA as a final score of 71-69. Abdul-Jabbar suffered a scratch on his left cornea during the game which definitely contributed to the lack of an adequate performance from the player. From then on, he wore his signature goggles for protection for his eye was still not 100% healed. Abdul-Jabbar then was drafted in the 1969 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks where he began his path to superstardom in the field of professional basketball. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kareem_Abdul_Jabbar)

The multimedia file portrays the final seconds of the 1974 NBA Finals. Two blockbuster teams, the Celtics and the Bucks, went head-to-head in an epic contest. The video shows the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar performing his signature skyhook shot over Henry Finkel to give the Milwaukee Bucks a 102-101 win in a double overtime. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bd-iBiz49h8) The skyhook shot was what Abdul-Jabbar was known for because it was very difficult to block. This was because the shot put his 7’2″ frame between the basket and the ball. Only a few players even accomplished in blocking the skyhook shot. This win over the Celtics would send the series into a seventh game. A similar shot was used in the 1987 NBA Championship by Magic Johnson. Johnson referred it as the “baby hook” in reference to his good friend and teammate. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hook_shot) A greater advantage for Abdul-Jabbar was the fact that he can do the skyhook with either hand. This made him even more difficult to defend. According to Abdul-Jabbar, the skyhook shot was “the only shot I could use that didn’t get smashed back in my face.” (Kareem 112)

Abdul-Jabbar’s professional career began when he was picked by the Milwaukee Bucks as a coin-toss over the Phoenix Suns. His place in the team enabled the ’69-70 Bucks to achieve second place in the NBA’s Eastern Division. He was ranked second in the league of scoring and third in the league of rebounding; for that, he received the award of NBA Rookie of the Year. In ’70-71, Milwaukee then went on to record the second-best record with 66 wins. During his career in the Bucks, Abdul-Jabbar was awarded three NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, two scoring titles, and the NBA Championship. He played for the Milwaukee Bucks for a total of six seasons. In 1975, Abdul-Jabbar was drafted by the Lakers and he then began to actually step up his game even further by training harder and doing everything he can to improve his weaknesses. To develop a greater flexibility, Abdul-Jabbar began yoga in 1976 and was also known for physical fitness regimen.

Throughout his entire career, Abdul-Jabbar acquired numerous accolades including a total of 38, 387 points, 17, 440 rebounds, and 3, 189 blocks. He has awarded six NBA Championships, six NBA MVPs, nineteen NBA All-Stars, two NBA Finals MVPs, ten All-NBA First Team Selections, five All-NBA Second Team Selections, five NBA All-Defensive First Teams Selections, six NBA All-Defensive Second Team Selection, 1970 NBA Rookie of the Year, 1970 NBA All-Rookie Team, participation in the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, three NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships, three NCAA Basketball Tournament MOPs, Naismith College Player of the Year, and a two-time USBWA College Player of the Year. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kareem_Abdul_Jabbar) His total stats add up to the following: games – 1560, games started – 625, minutes played – 57446, field goals – 15837, field goal attempts – 28307, field goal percentage – .559, three-point field goals – 1, three-point field goal attempts – 18, three-point field goal percentage – .056, free throws – 6712, free throw attempts – 6712, free throw percentage – .721, offensive rebounds – 2975, defensive rebounds – 9394, total rebounds – 17440, assists – 5660, steals – 1160, blocks – 3189, turnovers – 2527, personal fouls – 4657, and points – 38387. (http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/a/abdulka01.html)

Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA career lasted twenty long years, from 1969 to 1989. His talent was quickly recognized by his outstanding performance in college when he played for the UCLA Bruins. Abdul-Jabbar was a large star with many loyal fans. Many Abdul-Jabbar fans wore his signature goggles when attending the games to show their support for the player. Abdul-Jabbar announced his retirement on June 28, 1989, and during his final season, every team in the NBA gave him gifts including a yacht with the words “Captain Skyhook” on it. Abdul-Jabbar has served as an assistant coach for the LA Lakers since 2005. He is also interested in acting because of his fame through basketball. He made several television and film appearances including the sitcoms “Full House,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kareem_Abdul_Jabbar)

Abdul-Jabbar is a large advocate and supporter of helping the Muslim youth. He understands how many young Muslims face numerous acts of discrimination and negative stereotyping because of their religion. He advises them to simply explain how the religion of Islam has affected their lives positively. He relates the situation of the Muslims to the experience he went through as an African-American in the United States. Abdul-Jabbar explains that fanatics have taken over the stage and made Islam seem to be fanatic, when really it is the complete opposite since Muslims benefit every day from the morals and ethics the religion teaches. He says that the youth must be motivated and must not give in to the demeaning and demoralizing acts others do to discriminate Muslims. (http://kareemabduljabbar.com/?p=1156#more-1156)

The primary type of charities Abdul-Jabbar supports are the ones that mainly promote cancer and leukemia. This is the case because Abdul-Jabbar himself is diagnosed with a rare type of leukemia. (http://kareemabduljabbar.com/?page_id=74) He discovered his condition when he suddenly began to feel odd sensations such as hot flashes and sweats on a regular basis. When he took an exam at the UCLA Medical Center, the doctor informed Abdul-Jabbar that his white blood cell count was excessive and the doctor diagnosed him with leukemia. However, the disease is not too serious for it can be treated and he can live a full, productive life. According to Abdul-Jabbar’s doctor, the disease tends to initially diagnose people in their mid-to-late 60’s and typically affects males more than females. (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/basketball/nba/11/10/abdul-jabbar-leukemia.ap/index.html) Abdul-Jabbar is the head of the Skyhook Foundation as well. The organization empowers children’s lives by not only motivating and inspiring them in sports but as well as in the importance of education. (http://kareemabduljabbar.com/?page_id=1187)

Abdul-Jabbar has been described to have a very shy and introverted personality. He always wore very formal attire when attending any event or occasion such as a suit or a tuxedo. Abdul-Jabbar explains that he is always uncomfortable when speaking to reporters and describes them as “scurrying around like cockroaches after crumbs.” At games, he has been described as an arrogant player; however, his performance at games certainly backs up his arrogance. (http://sports.jrank.org/pages/24/Abdul-Jabbar-Kareem-Spiritual-Journeys.html) In his private life, he has been described as a person with little words; however he is a very hardworking individual. Abdul-Jabbar married Habiba Abdul-Jabbar, but divorced in 1978. He had two daughters named Habiba and Sultana and one son named Kareem Jr. with her. Kareem Jr. also hopes to follow his father’s footsteps to professional basketball. He has two sons, Amir and Adam, with another woman named Cheryl Pistono. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kareem_Abdul-Jabbar)

Abdul-Jabbar considers fellow basketball player Magic Johnson as one of his closest friends. Johnson respects Abdul-Jabbar so much that he performed the sky hook shot as the final shot instantly before the buzzer to win the 1987 NBA Finals as a form of gratitude towards his great friend. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hook_shot) Abdul-Jabbar considers Coach Donahue for the Power Memorial High School and Coach Wooden for the UCLA Bruins to be his biggest motivations. The two coaches are the ones who really pushed Abdul-Jabbar to the limit for him to achieve and reach the success he dreamt of. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kareem_Abdul-Jabbar) Abdul-Jabbar said that his entire life turned for the better when he converted to Islam. The religion has taught him how having good intentions for things can bring good things to life. He is a rather honest, truthful, and quiet individual. (http://kareemabduljabbar.com/?p=1120#more-1120)

Abdul-Jabbar is not very involved in the field of politics; however, he is a very strong supporter for helping the Muslim youth against discrimination. He has been known to only speak English because his parents were occupied with their profession. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kareem_Abdul-Jabbar) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is considered a very good role model because he had a poor life. His perseverance and determination brought him to where he is today. His path to a successful career in the NBA can be an inspiration for many. This proves that nobody is crazy if they simply want to dream big.



Abdul-Jabbar Going For His

Signature Sky Hook Shot



Abdul-Jabbar Setting Up

To Shoot


File:Kareem Abdul Jabbar crop.jpg

Abdul-Jabbar in the White




Abdul-Jabbar at a Book Signing


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shoots a sky hook over Xavier McDaniel.JPG

Abdul-Jabbar Shoots a Sky Hook over Xavier McDaniel



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