Black History Month in Sports: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

James Streeter, contributor

As we make our way through Black History Month, we continue focusing on the heroes of civil rights in sports. Last week we honored the work of Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in baseball in America. As we continue down the timeline, we honor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. 

Abdul-Jabbar attended UCLA where he went 88-2 in his three seasons with the Bruins. UCLA went undefeated in 1967, going 30-0 and winning the national championship, then 29-1 in each of the next two seasons. Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, and he won a league-record six MVP awards. He earned six championship rings, two Finals MVP awards, 15 NBA First or Second Teams, a record 19 NBA All-Star games, and averaged 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.6 blocks per game for his career.

Abdul-Jabbar’s impact went beyond the basketball court when he fought for the Black community. He boycotted the Olympic Games in an anti-racism protest. After converting to Islam, he privately changed his name from Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, meaning the noble one, servant of the Almighty. Abdul-Jabbar received a great deal of negative feedback for the decisions he made. Despite this, he stayed positive and ignored the others’ opinions of his decisions. Even though faced with adversity, Abdul-Jabbar set an important example in fighting for equity and justice.