Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Race

December 6, 2014

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar captured my attention recently. He’s the greatest basketball player, ever—yes, I’ll make the case, and I do welcome disagreements, really—but I noticed him because of his exceptional clarity about race in some recent writing.

About basketball. Kareem Adbul-Jabbar played college ball at UCLA as Lew Alcindor. As a professional he played for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers.

When Lew Alcindor arrived at UCLA, freshman did not play varsity basketball. UCLA had won national championships in 1964 and 1965. On November 27, 1965 the UCLA freshman played the defending two-time national champion varsity team. The freshman, led by Mr. Alcindor, won by 15. During Mr. Alcindor’s three years on the varsity team UCLA lost only two

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