Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Basketball Legend

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Basketball Legend

LiveAuctionTalk.com:  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Grey Flannel Auctions.

If you needed a sky-hook at the buzzer basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was your man.  It was his signature move and he used it to become the leading scorer in the NBA.

Kareem bent his entire body not just his arm as he raised the basketball high into the air in one sweet motion.  Then he released the ball at the highest point of his arm's arching action.

I’m not comfortable being preachy.  But more people need to start spending as much time in the library as they do on the basketball court
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

It sailed through the air meticulously and dropped through the net like a stone in water.  His sky-hook was almost impossible to block on the basketball court without goaltending. 

Kareem was 7-feet-2 inches, 267 pounds with marathon arms.  And he could shoot the sky-hook with either hand which made him all the more deadly. 

He released the shot when his shoulders were perpendicular to the hoop forcing his defender to move all the way across his body to try and grab the ball.  Kareem swung left and then shot right.    .

Kareem was the new dominant big man in basketball in 1969.  When he left the game in 1989 at age 42 with 38,387 points no one had ever scored more points, blocked more shots or played in more All-Star games than this center.  

He said he started using the hook shot in 5th grade as a way of keeping the basketball from being smashed back into his face.  It worked so he kept it in his bag of tricks.  

Kareem used the sky-hook to set scoring records for UCLA and win 88 of his 90 collegiate varsity games.  In 1969 he was the #1 pick in the NBA draft, going to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Bucks announcer Eddie Doucette named the sky-hook during Kareem’s early professional years with the team and it stuck.

“When you shoot it, you force people to wait for you to go up," Kareem said, "And if they wait until I started to shoot it then they'd have to judge the distance and time it, and it's gone before they can catch up to it.”

Kareem was the NCAA Basketball Tournament's Most Outstanding Player three times and won six NBA championships in his 20-year professional career.  The last five championships happened when he played alongside Magic Johnson on the Los Angeles Lakers teams in the 1980s.   He was inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

He was also the tallest player ever inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.  Kareem’s strict physical fitness routine included practicing yoga, martial arts and meditating before every game. 

“I'm not comfortable being preachy,” he said.  “But more people need to start spending as much time in the library as they do on the basketball court."

On Dec 8, Grey Flannel Auctions, Westhampton, N.Y., offered a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor) 1973-74 warm-up jacket for sale in its Holiday auction.  The rare, red Milwaukee Bucks jacket, size 44, sold for $96,631. 

Across the back is the player name “Abdul-Jabbar.”  The jacket shows wear and appears to have no alterations.


Mike Bloom Blue Worn Road Warm up Jacket; Inaugural Season; Championship season; Minneapolis Lakers; 1948-49; shows wear; appears to have no alterations;  $15,786.  

Dick McGuire White Game-Used Home Jersey; New York Knicks; circa 1957; shows game-use; appears to have no alterations;  $25,076.   

Bill Russell Green Fleece Road Jacket; Boston Celtics; 1967-68; shows wear; appears to have no alterations;  $41,435.

Bob Pettit White Game-Used Home Jersey; St. Louis Hawks; autographed; 1957-1958; championship season; shows game-use; appears to have no alterations;  $73,409.        

Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her LiveAuctionTalk.com website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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