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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Talks About Playing Duke

And a nice picture to illustrate it

Lewis Alcindor
Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, when he was known as Lew Alcindor and playing for UCLA and John Wooden
Photo by Bill Ray/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

SI’s Vault has this story from Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, back when he was still known as Lew Alcindor and a senior at UCLA.

He talks here about how disappointed he was in the racism he found in California and a lot of other things he had to deal with. He was at that point about 21, intellectually gifted and curious (he still is and has written at least four books, countless articles and made at least one movie).

He left UCLA for the NBA where he was drafted by Milwaukee in 1969. By 1975, he forced a trade back to Los Angeles where he played for the Lakers for the rest of his long career. We think he still lives there, so presumably he has come to terms with what he disliked about Los Angeles and California during his UCLA days.

In the article he talks about playing Duke in back-to-back games and said this:

“In our next game, Duke put three big men on me, and I didn’t even get to take a shot for the first 7½ minutes of play. It was like being in jail, with all those arms and legs around me. But of course the antidote for that kind of poison was very simple; I just passed off to the men who were left in the clear, and we won the game 88-54. I only scored 19 points, but I wasn’t at UCLA to score points. Duke was ranked seventh in the country then, and when we came back in the second game of the series to beat them 107-87, with me getting 38 points, their coach had a lot of nice things to say about me, which I appreciated very much. He said, ‘With him in there, you simply can’t play your regular brand of basketball.’”

We found this article and picture. We can’t tell you who the other two guys are but the guy to his right, who looks seriously stressed, is Duke great Mike Lewis.

We didn't keep up with the chronology, but on the last Sunday of The Last Dance, Steve Kerr said his dad took him to games at Pauley Pavilion, so it’s possible that he attended these two games.