Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Rumors
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Brady will be considered a great football player no matter what his politics. But when an athlete gets to be his age and is nearing the end of his career, maybe his legacy should be more than just being a great player but also being a great man. It’s too early to tell whether Brady’s legacy will be just a bunch of impressive stats or something more lasting. Maybe the true measure of one’s legacy is how many people you inspire who have never seen you play.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: This is why after I retired from the NBA, rather than spend my life as just a former athlete, I decided to redefine my identity through my achievements as a social activist and my new career as a writer. In choosing a new career, I needed the same challenge I had as an athlete, except this time the body would rest and the mind would take the lead. I knew that at first, my writing would be a curiosity. Some would dismiss it as capitalizing on my fame, like Steven Seagal’s album Songs from the Crystal Cave. I have written articles about politics and popular culture, books about African American history, novels, graphic novels, movies, and TV scripts. Fortunately, the novelty that I could string words together cohesively passed and my work as a writer – which I have been doing for longer than I played in the NBA – has been taken seriously.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Then there’s Tom Brady. Brady, considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all time, is no mayfly. On Sunday, he will make his bid to win his seventh Super Bowl. At 43, he is the oldest active NFL player and, after playing 21 seasons, he is closing in on George Blanda’s 26-season record.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: I was 42 when I retired from the Lakers. After 20 seasons, I had a lot of NBA records and very little hair. Some of those records have since been broken, some remain to be broken at a time to be decided. I did learn some lessons about being a middle-aged athlete in a league where the average age is 26, which is also the age of the average NFL player. Some of those lessons were about playing, some were about being a player – two very different things.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Playing on a professional level against well-trained athletes 20 years younger is a challenge. The court seems much longer, the legs seems heavier, the hoop seems smaller. That’s when you come face-to-face with what philosophers call the mind-body problem: the relationship between the consciousness of the mind and the stubborn bag of meat that is your body.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: It’s still not certain what kind of player Tom Brady will be. In 2014, he sidestepped the subject of players taking stands on social issues: “I try to stay in my lane. All of those things, none of it’s really my business or my control. I’ve just been focusing on the games and what I can do better.” When asked about the possibility of being a spokesman on behalf of the players, he shook it off. “I certainly have a lot of personal feelings toward all those things, but it’s just, there’s nothing I can do … I really don’t want to be involved in any of those things … I just don’t want my name mentioned in any of those situations that are happening.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: However, in September of 2020, following the summer of national Black Lives Matter protests, he offered more direct support of the activists’ cause: “Everyone should deserve the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. Being in the locker room for 20 years and being around guys with every different race, religion, skin color, background and different states. Everyone [brings] something different to the table and you embrace those things. They expand you in ways that you couldn’t have been expanded if you weren’t exposed all those different things.” That suggests to me that he’s becoming a player who wants to use his voice to help achieve equity among Americans.