NBA’s Greatest : Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the man who perfected ‘Skyhook’

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Regarded by many as the Greatest Player of All time, Lew Alcindor or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was an absolute beast on the basketball floor.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 6 MVP titles still remain a record, and he is the NBA’s all-time leading points scorer. He is also top three in rebounding and blocked shots all-time and ended his career with 6 rings, easily placing him in the upper pantheons of NBA greats. Legends such as Pat Riley, Isaiah Thomas and Julius Erving have described him as the Greatest to ever play the game.

Standing at 7’3, Kareem started his college career with UCLA and went to 3 consecutive National Championships. Because of his special skill and size, Jabbar was able to dominate games and dunk on his opponents at will. Such was his dominance that the dunk was outlawed in college basketball during his time. He signed with the Milwaukee Bucks as the 1st overall pick in the draft and helped the new franchise to their first tile in 1971, beating the heavily favored Wilt Chamberlain and his team.  At this time of his life, he was known as before he converted to Islam and changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

After a few successful seasons with the Bucks, Jabbar joined the Los Angeles Lakers and helped bring in the ‘Showtime Era’ along with Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper, James Worthy, Bob McAdoo and others. This Lakers would go on to become a dynasty and dominate the 1980’s, winning 5 titles. Abdul-Jabbar was a key component of this side, and he continued to average over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Such longevity and consistency are unparalleled in history of any professional sport in my opinion and this fact makes him a lock for one of the top 5 players of all time.

Because of the ban on the dunk, Jabbar developed the ‘Skyhook’ to counter his opposition. This shot has turned into possibly the only unstoppable shot in the history of the game. At 7’3, Jabbar would get the ball with his back to the basket and the man guarding him. He would then flick the ball over his shoulder and release the ball in a hook like shape, almost lobbing it into the basket. Because of the release height close to 9-10 feet and the distance between him and his marker, it was almost always successful. This is the shot that helped him to over 33,000 points and 6 MVP’s.

In his heyday in the 1970’s, Kareem regularly torched his opponents and he was the most irresistible force in the game. Few would have thought that after Wilt Chamberlain, a guy would come who would be an even better scorer of the basketball. He may not hold the same stat highlights as the ‘Big Dipper’, but his all around achievements are second to none.

With multiple scoring titles, All-NBA first team selections, MVP’s and NBA titles, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar can safely be considered as one of the best players to ever play the game of basketball and easily one of the most smartest and intelligent.

 

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Photo by Kip-koech

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