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YouTube Gold: Young Kareem

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in his 20’s was pretty unbelievable.

New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks
MILWAUKEE - 1971: Willis Reed#19 of the New York Knicks plays defense against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #33 of Milwaukee Bucks during a game circa 1971 at the MECCA Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Photo by Vernon Biever/NBAE via Getty Images

People who saw Kareem Abdul-Jabbar play probably remember him in his later year with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He was still good and his sky hook was a lethal weapon for his entire career but he was an older guy and played like it. The Lakers were so talented that they could hide his decline to an extent but not completely.

As a younger player though Kareem was just amazing. His skyhook was a weapon that evolved during his career and he had it as a younger guy but it was not as refined.

What you’ll see here though is a guy who is lean, lithe, and lethal. He is much more athletic than he was during the Showtime years, able to lead a break or pivot for a finger roll.

If you’re wondering if he could play today, you can stop wondering because he could. First, give him all the benefits of modern training, nutrition and equipment and he’s right there with any big man of the day. And second, he only had his skyhook blocked four times during his career. With the paucity of big men today, it’s possible he could have been even more dominant.