At a Black History Month event at Bodine High School for International Affairs yesterday, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar screened his just-released documentary about a 1930s Harlem basketball team showcasing the effects of segregation in sports.
He also posed for pictures with students from whom he fielded questions about society, history, whether he “was born 4-foot-7” (he was just 22.5 inches at birth) and scoring 6,095 more points than Michael Jordan.
Labeling the Harlem Rens as trailblazers and “the best basketball team you’ve never heard of,” Abdul-Jabbar said, “When I graduated from high school in 1965, I couldn’t go to college in the South because of Jim Crow laws. Couldn’t go to Duke, Clemson, Vanderbilt — but I could go to school outside of the South.”
Last year, Jabbar started “The Skyhook Foundation” nonprofit to mentor youths in underserved communities. He cited Wilt Chamberlain — “that guy from Overbrook” whom he beat in the 1971 NBA finals but who defeated and outplayed him in the following year’s rematch — as an all-time “great.” He deflected questions about picking the best current player and hadn’t heard of NBA2K11 for Xbox.
The UCLA alum who once said “I can do more than shoot a ball through a hoop” urged the students to go to college so “you can walk out with that diploma in your back pocket and do anything from there.”