Saturday, March 08, 2008

Lew Alcindor All-Time #1 College Basketball Player, ESPN Says

According to an article on AOL Sports' Fanhouse, ESPN is doing a feature on the 25 best college hoops players of all time, and it seems that Lew Alcindor has come out at number one. A good choice, and not all that surprising when you look at the college career of the man who would later join the NBA and become a household name worldwide as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Alcindor was born in Harlem in 1947 as Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr., and grew up there. The jaw-dropping numbers that he put up at New York City's Power Memorial High School were a sign of things to come. He led Power to three consecutive New York City Catholic championships, which included a 72-game winning streak and a 96–6 record. And Alcindor racked up more than 2,000 total points in his high school career.

Alcindor's college career was spent at UCLA, where he set many school records that still stand today... quite a feat considering the illustrious winning history of that school's basketball program. And the fact that in that era freshman weren't eligible for the varsity squad, so Alcindor's numbers aren't for the full four years.

Alcindor's UCLA Bruins won the NCAA title three times, in 1967, 1968, and 1969, and he was voted Most Outstanding Player in the tournament each of those years. Alcindor was also named Naismith College Player of the Year in 1969.

After UCLA Alcindor was drafted by the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks in 1969, and led the team to the NBA title in 1971. That same year he changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a name that reflected the Muslim faith he had adopted several years earlier.

Of course, most fans (including me) remember Kareem from his years with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he played from 1975 to the end of his pro career in 1989. Kareem was the big man in the middle, whose skyhook was a lethal weapon on a team that also had the "Showtime" razzle-dazzle of Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Michael Cooper.

So congrats, Kareem, on another honor. I hope this recognition from ESPN will lead to a new generation of fans to discover the amazing talent and achievements of Lew Alcindor/Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, one of the greatest hoops players of all time.

You can find out more about Kareem's basketball career at his page at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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