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YouTube Gold: Kareem Teaches A Rookie A Valuable Lesson

Kareem was mostly a peaceful player but when he got angry, he didn't mess around.

Los Angeles Lakers v Milwaukee Bucks
Kent Benson driving on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

No one much liked Kent Benson. Although he was the center of Indiana’s famous undefeated 1976 national champions, even IU fans have a reason to dislike him: he was a key factor for Larry Bird packing up and leaving Indiana after just a few weeks: he couldn’t stand Benson, who did his best to keep the freshman miserable.

That continued when he got to the NBA. In his first NBA game - just two minutes in - Benson learned a key lesson about rookies and the NBA hierarchy.

Benson and his Milwaukee Bucks were playing the Los Angeles Lakers and for Benson, that meant he started his NBA career competing against one of the NBA’s all-time great centers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Benson later said that Kareem had elbowed him a few times so he gave him a shot back and the video shows Jabbar doubling over in pain.

When he straightened back up, Kareem walked around and unleashed a devastating punch to Benson’s face, knocking him down and leaving him concussed.

Later, Benson said he “was seeing stars and birdies and everything else.”

He was back fairly soon, but not Kareem: the punch broke his hand and he was out for weeks. He later expressed regret for the punch, saying he was “so sorry” for what happened.

Still, he sent a message to Benson and everyone else who wasn’t sure: Kareem could take care of himself.