Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and mastering the fundamentals

To me, the most exciting time in the NBA was in the late ‘70s and the ‘80s. The great players of that era changed the game forever and shaped how it’s played today. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a quiet assassin in his 20 seasons with the NBA, and nearly 30 years after leaving the court, he’s still the league’s leading scorer of all time with 38,387 points – a record that may never be broken. 

Before he went pro, he had unbelievable success at UCLA with three championships under Coach John Wooden, who taught Kareem fundamentals really matter.

“Coach Wooden’s basic philosophy was to teach the fundamentals of the game and try to get his team to execute as a unit, instead of as five individuals out there. Five fingers working together, not separately. It’s the teams that are able to be effective as a unit that get to stand in the winner’s circle at the end of the season.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

To be successful in anything you do in life, you have to know how to work on a team and, maybe more importantly, how to work as a team. When you’re as great as Kareem and you’re sharing the court with people who admire you, you also need to know how to lead.

“I was able to master the fundamentals, and then I had that desire to win and had that leadership quality. Leadership is shown in many different ways. Some people are vocal leaders, some people lead by example. I feel that my career is one of leading by example.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

For any athlete, playing at the pro level takes talent, and Kareem obviously has talent. What really pushes great players over the edge into extraordinary is their attitude and desire to win. 

“The great players have an attitude where they’re not going to accept second place. They want to be in first place, and they will work as hard as they can to get there… Basketball is the type of game, if you work on certain talents and hone them, you can play and be a very effective player and make it to the Hall of Fame.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Listen to our full conversation on Extraordinary Happens.

Lauren Grancio