Kareem Abdul-Jabbar opens up about his life in HBO’s documentary, “Kareem: Minority of One,” which debuts on Tuesday night.
The hall-of-fame center reflects on his career, faith and family dating back to his days as young, shy and awkwardly tall Lew Alcindor, and going through to his time with the UCLA Bruins, Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers.
He changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with the Bucks, prior to his trade to the Lakers, when he converted to Islam.
As a young player, he came to know Wilt Chamberlain, originally when the NBA legend was with the Philadelphia Warriors.
“Wilt had some beautiful suits. I took them home. I tried them on -- the suits didn’t fit but they were beautiful and they were from Wilt. So I wanted to keep them,” remembered Abdul-Jabbar. “But he had partied in them, and sweated through them and they didn’t smell too good. My mom said, ‘We can’t keep these,’ and we had to throw them out.”
Chamberlain eventually joined the Lakers, helping the team win the NBA title in 1972.
Abdul-Jabbar and Chamberlain went on to have a somewhat contentious relationship, as the former young protege grew into an on-court rival. Abdul-Jabbar’s six championships would ultimately surpass Chamberlain’s two.
One of Abdul-Jabbar’s biggest on-court moments was passing Chamberlain on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with his 31,420th point. Abdul-Jabbar finished his 20-year career with 38,387 points -- a record that still stands.
But, as the HBO documentary points out, not all of Abdul-Jabbar’s memories are pleasant. He owns up to failings, including the dissolution of his first marriage, separation from his parents and a generally withdrawn nature that didn’t help win over fans and the media.