Abdul-Jabbar spreads wide wings as Renaissance Man

Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:37pm EST
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar proved to be an ultimate winner during his Hall of Fame career but for the NBA's all-time leading scorer, missing out on a chance to be a head coach may have been a blessing.

The shy, cerebral 7-foot-2 (2.18 m) Abdul-Jabbar, a prolific winner from New York's Power Memorial High School to UCLA, from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Los Angeles Lakers, is now thriving as the kind of Renaissance Man he always thought he could be.

A writer, actor, filmmaker, political essayist and U.S. cultural ambassador, Abdul-Jabbar, 67, also put in years as an NBA assistant coach with an eye on becoming a head coach.

"I pursued it for a while, but the doors didn't open and I moved on," Jabbar, a six-time NBA champion told Reuters during a telephone interview to promote his latest young adult novel, "Stealing the Game."

"Where I am now, I can do a lot more than I could have as an NBA coach. So I'm very pleased with the opportunities that I've gotten and was able to take advantage of."

The six-time NBA Most Valuable Player is not embittered at never landing a head coaching job, but conceded there might be a bias against big men calling the shots on court.

"Certainly they think the point guards know more because on the court, the ball starts with them. They get to initiate everything," the 19-time NBA All-Star said.

"People think they're the only ones that understand that," he said, debunking that notion with a nod to successful coaching 'big men' including Phil Jackson, Bill Russell and Kevin McHale.   Continued...

NBA former player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the NBA All Star skill contest at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports