With the NBA’s all-time leading scorer appearing on the show this morning, Brandon Tierney couldn’t wait to ask Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a very important question:
Can he still dunk?
“Yes, I can,” the 67-year-old said on The Morning Show. “I can still dunk – at least up until last year I could still dunk. I haven’t tried it in about a year.”
The Los Angeles Lakers probably wish Abdul-Jabbar could do some dunking for them. At 1-6, the Lakers are the worst team in the Western Conference and the second-worst team in basketball, behind only winless Philadelphia.
What’s the short-term prognosis for the Lakers?
“Well, the short-term is going to be tough,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “They’ve got to figure out an identity, and the players they have (need) to come and step up and play at their best ad play together. That takes a while to establish that. But I think Byron (Scott) is doing a great job. He’s absolutely on their case about what they need to learn and how they need to play. He’s going to do the best job he can. I’m sure Byron will lead them and make them figure out what they need to do to be a better team.”
That probably doesn’t involve trading Kobe Bryant, who leads the league with 26.7 points per game.
“I doubt they would trade him,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “He makes a lot of money, and he’s been a Laker his whole life. I don’t think people could even conceive of him being on any other team. The Lakers, they need him. He still has a lot of firepower. If they can put other good players out there on the court that can play with him, it will still be a good team.”
Abdul-Jabbar played on plenty of those. In fact, he won six NBA titles in a career that is often overlooked. When people talk about the greatest players of all time, you’ll hear Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell – the list goes on. It usually takes people a while to get to Abdul-Jabbar – if they get to him at all.
Why the lack of respect?
“I think just the way I played the game, people couldn’t appreciate what I was doing because no one was able to guard me” Abdul-Jabbar said. “They say it was easy for me or something to that effect. It wasn’t easy, but I had a tactic and a method of playing the game that enabled me to do a lot of really great things.”
When he retired, Abdul-Jabbar was not only the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, but also the all-time leader in blocks and defensive rebounds.
“That’s pretty good,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “People just can’t get their head around it. It might take a while, but people who know (the game) understand I did something very special and (that) I deserve some credit for that.”
As for today’s big men, Abdul-Jabbar enjoys watching Tim Duncan and Joakim Noah.
“I like Joakim Noah,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “He’s a defensive player. He plays for his team. He has a mentality like Bill Russell, making it difficult for their opponents to get shots close to the basket. He guards the basket well. He rebounds well and he’s a good cog in their offense. He plays the game great at both ends of the court.”