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NBA Great Abdul-Jabbar Visits Korea for 1st Time

Posted September. 03, 2009 08:22,   


NBA Hall of Fame center and career scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 62, is visiting Korea for the first time for the NBA Asia Challenge that starts Saturday.

Scoring 38,387 points over his illustrious career, Abdul-Jabbar spoke to The Dong-A Ilbo at the Renaissance Hotel in southern Seoul yesterday afternoon. He came to Seoul together to coach a team with former NBA stars including Tim Hardaway and Vlade Divac.

ESPN ranked Abdul-Jabbar as the best center in NBA history, saying a player like him will never emerge again. “He was a legendary maestro, who secured the glory both as individual and for his team,” the sports network said at the time.

○ Aggressive on the court, but cool in daily living

“It is a great honor to meet you,” the Dong-A reporter said in greeting Abdul-Jabbar at the interview. With benign eyes and an innocent smile, the American reminded the reporter of a friendly next-door neighbor.

Abdul-Jabbar eased the reporter’s nervousness instantly, saying, “I used to have a low-key personality off the court when I was an active player. I generally try to make others feel comfortable.”

He said the two happiest moments in his life were the 1985 NBA title he won with the Los Angeles Lakers and the time he spends with his five children.

The Lakers beat the Boston Celtics to clinch the title in 1985 and Abdul-Jabbar averaged 25.7 points in the best-of-seven series to win Most Valuable Player honors.

On his children, he said, “The people who’ve influenced my life the most are my parents and children,” adding, “They are effectively the key that sets the direction in my life.”

Abdul-Jabbar said the most regrettable moment in his playing career was when he could not play due to a hand injury. The 19-time All Star said he felt really sorry for his team at that time since he was out.

○ Basketball is always a ‘new bud’

Abdul-Jabbar’s trademark was his iconic and nearly unblockable sky hook. “The sky hook looks easy to shoot, but it requires precise timing and balance,” he said, adding he practiced the shot more than 500 times daily.

On who he believes is the best basketballer in history, Abdul-Jabbar said it is difficult to single out one player since good ones can play different positions. He said, however, “Michael Jordan is clearly one of them,” and described Jordan as “a conqueror who ruled his own era.”

Abdul-Jabbar named as his hobbies swimming, horseback riding and yoga, as well as reading many history books. “Had I not become a pro basketball player, I would’ve been a history teacher with a low-profile personality,” he said.

On his first visit to Korea, he called it a “journey” and not a business trip. He also said he will describe his impression of Korea to his friends in the U.S.

On what basketball is to him, Abdul-Jabbar paused to think before saying with his thumb up, “Basketball is a new bud because it’s always new and fresh and there’s always room for progress.”