This video asks several NBA greats, including Duke great Grant Hill, what they thought of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Several guys pointed to him as perhaps the best best player ever.
Almost to a man they point to his most deadly weapon: the sky hook. No one has ever had a shot that even approaches it. We keep waiting for some rising star to call him and ask for instruction. We’re pretty sure he’d be happy to teach it.
Kareem could go left or right with it - in the immortal words of the late Charles Shackleford, he was amphibious.
Whatever you think of anyone else, whatever they did, most people can agree on this: the skyhook was the most regal shot in the history of the game. He got it off over Wilt Chamberlain, Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Parish and anyone else who tried to get it.
The picture with this article really illustrates that. What could he possibly do? What could anyone do? It was unstoppable.
Side story. We read this in a magazine years ago and can’t possibly remember where. The story, though, was indelible.
He was on the playground in high school when a pickup game started up. Kareem was guarded by a 6-6 guy the writer thought might have been a college football player. The baskets had no nets - it was that kind of court.
The big guy beat on Kareem as much as he could, tried to muscle him, while Kareem has always been a quiet and thoughtful person, at a certain point, he had just had enough. So on a fastbreak, he took the ball coast-to-coast and the big guy trailed him. When he went up for the dunk, the guy passed under him, heading out of bounds.
Kareem slammed the ball through the net and beaned the guy on the top of his head - hard. He staggered off the court and didn’t come back.
He was not someone to be messed with.
Bonus: here’s Bill Walton blocking the skyhook - but from behind.