Life Lessons From Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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He’s the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. He owns the most unstoppable move ever: the Skyhook. He’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And while he retired decades ago, his wisdom grows as he mentors many of today’s all-stars. So let’s listen to what one of the greatest ballers of all-time has to tell us about basketball, and more importantly, life.
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On Being Tall

“I’m able to notice things before other people. That is one advantage. When I was young and living in New York, I’d be standing on the subway platform and people would want to know “What train is coming? Is that the D train?” I could see over all the people on the platform.”
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On The Skyhook

“I was in the fifth grade (when I started shooting the hook shot). My grade school coach, Farrell Hopkins, had some guys come and show me post and pivot moves, and they showed me the George Mikan drill. Mikan used the hook shot.”
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On Bruce Lee

“Bruce Lee said he was not concerned about someone who had practiced ten thousand kicks. He was more concerned about a person who had practiced one kick ten thousand times. I was that person. That’s why the hook was such a formidable weapon.”
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Banning The Dunk In College

“When they banned the dunk in college, I felt like they were trying to inhibit my game, but I realized almost immediately that all of the shots I could dunk I could just as easily lay off the glass—and it was still going to be two points, so I didn’t have anything to worry about. It was strange to think an entire institution, the NCAA, was changing its rules just because of me. It gets to you because as an individual you never expect you’ll be seen as that much of a threat.”
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On Monotheism

“The most basic aspect of monotheism is pretty simple. It’s supposed to be what Jews, Christians, and Muslims are all about. When he was asked, “What is the essence of the Torah?” the Jewish scholar Hillel said, “To treat others how you wish to be treated.” That is the message throughout all of the monotheistic religions. To me, it is simple yet profound how we humans can’t put this into practice.”
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Back-To-The-Basket Moves

“The back-to-the-basket moves, the graceful footwork in the paint—that’s part of the game that is fading. The three-point shot has taken over everybody’s mentality. Why settle for two points when you can have three?”
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On Milestones

“There are milestones that have happened with my kids that are more important to me than any of the trophies or championships I have won. One of my sons is an orthopedic surgeon. Seeing him get out of med school was great. My other son is a counselor; he just had a daughter and I’m a grandfather now. Things like that are neat.”
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On Women

“What have I learned about women? You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. Yep. That’s what I’ve learned.”
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On American Politics

“American politics is fueled by fear and frustration. This has prompted many in the white middle class to seek a savior rather than someone with rational and realistic policies. It’s like asking the balloon clown at a kids’ party to start juggling chain saws.”
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On Being An Icon

“Being iconic is kind of strange because you think of yourself as just being the same ordinary person you’ve been your whole life. We all have our strengths and our foibles. To me, I’m me, then as now.”
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On Fame

“When people meet someone they perceive to be famous, it’s almost like their circuits cross. It’s like their brains short out for a second. They have to say something or do something. Often it’s a little weird or inappropriate.”
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On Basketball

“It wasn’t hard to get me the ball.”
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