Sports Illustrated on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
July 20, 2015 2:03 PM   Subscribe

"11 books, including memoir, history, detective fiction and juvenile novels; magazine articles published in everything from the socialist Jacobin to the resolutely Main Street Rotarian; a gig commenting on current events for TIME following a run as a pop culture columnist for The Huffington Post; two films about his life, including HBO’s forthcoming Kareem: A Minority of One; and appearances on shows such as Meet the Press, where he’ll pose questions such as, 'Why must peaceful Muslims like myself answer for violent perversions of that religion while their counterparts in other faiths get a pass?' After years of trying to break back into the NBA as a full-time assistant coach, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 68, has found both comfort and a calling as a man of letters and a public intellectual."
posted by overeducated_alligator (7 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
(See also, this story of his Sherlock Holmes fandom from The New Yorker.)
posted by Tsuga at 2:29 PM on July 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

All of his books also have credited coauthors, but of the 3 or 4 that I've read, none of them read like as-told-to hack jobs, and they are also fairly consistent in writing style.

I'd be curious to know what the actual working relationship is like, since he seemed to have a different coauthor for each different subgenre. Does he lean on them for moral support, for help with the structure of longer pieces?
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 3:01 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

My parents, who were at UCLA at the same time he was, have often remarked that he was one of the few athletes they encountered who took their studies as seriously as their athletics. (That, and his habit of casually leaning against the top of the nearest door frame while talking to people.) I really should read his Sherlock Holmes pastiche.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:07 PM on July 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

Whenever anyone tries to shame me for my love of the Real Housewives franchise I remember (and sometimes point out) that Kareem Abdul Jabbar wrote a well reasoned and lovely piece defending my beloved housewives to their detractors. Even if I don't know much about his career otherwise I will always respect his thoughts on reality TV!
posted by rdnnyc at 4:47 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Couple of comments deleted. Please skip the "Metafilter is like this" stuff. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:18 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

One of the legacies of John Wooden is that not only could he coach basketball, but he made it a priority to encourage his players to develop as men. While he expected them to conform to team rules (Bill Walton famously had to cut his hair before Wooden would let him practice) he at the same time encouraged them to be individuals and to voice their thoughts.

I think Cornell West said it, but Kareem Abdul Jabbar is not only a giant of a man physically, he is a giant of a man both intellectually and morally. The two athletes of my youth I admire most for their combination of physical skill, work ethic and intellectual accomplishments, players who are just as accomplished off the court or out of the ring as in are Muhammed Ali and Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
posted by AugustWest at 9:21 PM on July 20, 2015

Taken along with the fact that he held his own against Bruce Lee for a full five minutes in Game of Death, I think we can safely regard Kareem as one of the premier renaissance men of the 20th/21st centuries.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:51 AM on July 21, 2015

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