Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then a UCLA student known as Lew Alcindor, had already developed a relationship with then-UCLA basketball coach John Wooden before the two went out to dinner. Kareem was eager for any guidance on how to excel in the classroom and on the court at the college level.
The skilled educator from Indiana had planned to spend their time counseling the lanky 7-foot-2 centre from New York City on how to deal with the impending scrutiny from aggressive rivals and nosy media. Instead, the then-middle-aged Wooden gained knowledge from the racism his 18-year-old dinner companion frequently encountered that evening.
An old white woman who was admiring Abdul-Jabbar’s height as they left the restaurant used a racial epithet to address him. Abdul-Jabbar recalled that even though Wooden’s cheeks became crimson, he “was too much the Midwestern gentleman to verbally attack an old woman.”Any white person in America experiences it in the same way. They are unaware of what it’s like to experience racism, according to Abdul-Jabbar. How will they learn that information?
Wooden quickly did. He then expressed regret to Abdul-Jabbar and begged him not to assume that all white people are racist.
He was very troubled by that. His perspective was seriously impacted, according to Abdul-Jabbar. “That must’ve been a humbling experience for someone like him who felt like he had the hands on the reins of everything.”
In his book, Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-year Friendship On and Off the Court, Abdul-Jabbar shared a number of events. The NBA’s all-time leading scorer discusses Wooden’s record 10 NCAA titles with UCLA, his renowned Pyramid of Success, and how he assisted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in creating his skyhook in the book, one of more than a dozen he has written. The former UCLA and Lakers center also discusses difficult circumstances that both strained and benefited his friendship with Wooden.
Abdul-Jabbar claimed that “Coach didn’t get it all right.” But I brought that up so people wouldn’t assume he was a model citizen. He made mistakes, but his response to them was excellent.
Abdul-Jabbar claimed that after Wooden passed away in 2010, he gained a deeper appreciation for the quality of their relationship. Basketball was at its core, but it also featured a love of music, literature, and history as well as respect for each other’s varied upbringings. That story took Abdul-Jabbar seven years to write.
Abdul-Jabbar stated, “I have to consider what Coach Wooden meant to my life. “I then had to consider how much of my information I wanted to share with the public. Some of it is confidential. But it has a lot of significance.
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