What should I ask Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

by on January 8, 2016 at 10:49 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

He will be doing a Conversation with Tyler on January 26.  He is the author of eleven books, writes a Time column, has played in some significant movies, trained with Bruce Lee, and is can be considered one of the offshoots of the Harlem Renaissance.  He was good at basketball too.  What should I ask him?

1 Kobe Bryant January 8, 2016 at 10:52 am

Why, K, why???

2 T. Shaw January 8, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Who cares what the old, big guy has to say about anything?

3 Brian Donohue January 8, 2016 at 1:02 pm

I do. He’s a pretty singular fellow.

4 Norman Pfyster January 8, 2016 at 11:02 am

Was “Airplane” really a significant movie?

5 AyeJay January 8, 2016 at 11:17 am

Yes, yes, I remember- I had lasagna.

6 karl January 8, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Yes, it created a new template for comedy. Admittedly, few films that followed its lead were nearly as good (TV’s Police Squad excepted), but a lot of them were popular.

7 Hadur January 8, 2016 at 11:05 am

First of all, congratulate him on being a apart of Airplane!, arguably one of the greatest comedies ever made. In fact, a study that looked at how much people laugh while viewing a movie showed that Airplane! caused, by far, the most laughter.

Second, I too have been following the emergence of Kareem Abul-Jabbar as a columnist. A lot of his columns seem to offer a take that does not meet any particular ideology: I have seen both liberals and conservatives take issue with what he has to say. What does Kareem consider to be the ideological lens he brings to an issue? What are the bigger things he believes in that shape his views? What point of view is he coming from?

8 Todd January 8, 2016 at 11:07 am

He was very eloquent on the issue of gun violence’s effect on African-Americans in a recent ‘Time’ op-ed. Asking him a question based on that, and maybe specifically his calls for systemic changes to responding to poverty and violence would be a good idea.

9 Keith January 8, 2016 at 11:11 am

42 years ago this month 7 people were killed in your home. Will you finally explain the complete story? What was your involvement with the Nation of Islam?

10 Ano January 8, 2016 at 11:32 am

I’ve never heard about this and it’s not on his wikipedia page. Do you happen to have a source link?

11 Keith January 8, 2016 at 6:20 pm
12 Jaunty Rockefeller January 8, 2016 at 12:13 pm

What are you insinuating—that Kareem was complicit in the murders? If so, you’ve got it exactly backwards–members of the Hanafi group, for whom Kareem had purchased a townhouse as a community center (not his home), were killed by (allegedly) the NOI in retribution for the criticism of Elijah Muhammad by Hamaas Khaalis, the Hanafi leader. It’s not like this has been covered up—there was a trial and everything, though I take it the NOI link was not pursued to the Hanafi’s satisfaction. What does Kareem have to answer for?

13 Keith January 8, 2016 at 6:31 pm

There were two incidents. One where people tried to kill Hamas Khaalis, and one where Khaalis and his group attacked the headquarters of the Jewish charitable organization B’nai Brith (where they took over 100 hostages), City Hall (where the Hanafis shot and killed a young reporter, and a security guard later died of wounds), and, interestingly, the Islamic Center of Washington.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2015/01/14/37-years-from-the-dc-hanafi-hostage-situation-to-the-charlie-hebdo-massacre-what-have-we-learned/#ixzz3whMPbhbv

Why was Kareem involved with these groups at all? That is what I would ask him.

14 Art January 8, 2016 at 11:11 am

I’d like to hear his views on changing American attitudes toward Islam. He converted at a time when Nation of Islam (“Black Muslims”) still had some pop. The decades have seen a shift toward traditional Sunni Islam in America, but the relationship between African-American Muslims and Muslim immigrants from the rest of the world (including Africa) is still uneasy. As a high-profile convert, he must have insight on this.

15 Walt Guyll January 8, 2016 at 11:15 am

Is the NBA monopoly necessary in professional basketball?

16 observer January 8, 2016 at 11:50 am

There are many mediocre professional leagues which fans are free to support. The fact that the NBA is able to acquire the best talent is a credit to themselves. Bear in mind that the ABA successfully merged with the NBA, with start-up innovation.

17 derek January 8, 2016 at 1:31 pm

There is a government-sanctioned monopoly though anti-trust exemptions though. In addition, a lot of studies have suggested that state and local governments do not get their money’s worth from subsidizing stadium construction, a problem made important by the reality that these subsidies do not at all seem to occur on the up-and-up (see current events for St Louis Rams and Milwaulkee Bucks). I’ll agree that these matters are not that relevant in a Kareem interview, but the government’s support of professional sports monopolies is indeed a thing.

18 Jaunty Rockefeller January 8, 2016 at 8:18 pm

The NBA isn’t exempt from the antitrust laws. See Haywood v. NBA.

19 Alex January 10, 2016 at 3:00 am

How is the NBA a monopoly?

20 Michael January 8, 2016 at 11:18 am

I look forward to your discussion with Abdul-Jabbar. While I don’t always agree with him, I do think he often tries to lend an honest perspective to things. One question I would like to ask him in particular relates to his conversion to Islam. In his conversion story, he states that he decided to leave Christianity, partially because of his perception that it enabled the enslavement of his people. Furthermore, he saw Islam as the original religion of his ancestors when they were enslaved and brought to America. Islam is not indigenous to Africa, and in many cases was spread through the use of force. Why does he not extend the same critical lens to Islam as he does Christianity? Just as his ancestors were not originally Christian, nor were his ancestors originally Muslim. In his story, he references the fact that the Catholic Church (in which he was raised) condemned slavery, but, to his mind, this was “too little too late.” Has the Islamic religious authority that he currently recognizes apologized for the subjugation of and forced conversion of his ancestors?

21 Vaniver January 8, 2016 at 11:49 am

I’m not sure ancestral forced conversion is that deep an issue. One thing that might be more interesting to ask is if the Islamic religious authority that he currently recognizes has signed the Open Letter to Baghdadi ( http://www.lettertobaghdadi.com/ ) decrying slavery as practiced and justified by some Islamists. (I don’t expect Tyler to actually ask about this, given that it’s an unsightly topic.)

22 A different Michael January 8, 2016 at 11:58 am

+1. The role of Islam in the growth of slavery in the West is under-examined.

23 Jake January 8, 2016 at 1:53 pm

It baffles me to no end that someone would adopt a religion based on whether one’s ancestors adopted it, and not on whether its beliefs are likely to be true.

24 Agra Brum January 8, 2016 at 6:58 pm

But that is the most likely reason for any religion to be adopted – what a person’s parents worshiped.

25 Jake January 9, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Yes, that is the true reason, but that is not what people TELL THEMSELVES. When they adopt their parents’ religion they do it by telling themselves that its claims are TRUE. That doesn’t seem to be what KAJ is doing.

26 Some Other Tom (I Forget Which) January 8, 2016 at 11:18 am

Why Airplane? How many sports stars, and basketball players in particular, would willingly subject themselves to that kind of mockery instead of playing more standard “jock” roles like Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch in the original Zero Hour or a humorous role like Dr. J in The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh? Or was it an attempt to reply to your critics in a way you couldn’t necessarily yell at journalists and the general public? More broadly, how hard is it to escape the star athlete bubble you could have crawled into and stayed in starting in high school? Is it easier or harder for a star athlete to break or crawl into that bubble these days? What does that mean for the playing and post-playing careers of Kobe, LeBron, and the next generation of stars?

27 Brian Donohue January 8, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Completely wrong, I reckon Jabbar really enjoyed delivering this line:

Kid: “I think you’re the greatest, but my dad says you don’t work hard enough on defense. And he says that lots of times, you don’t even run down court. And that you don’t really try… except during the playoffs.”

Jabbar: “The hell I don’t! LISTEN, KID! I’ve been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I’m out there busting my buns every night! Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes!”


28 Agra Brum January 8, 2016 at 6:59 pm

You must be confused. His name’s Murdoch. He’s the co-pilot.

29 Eric H January 8, 2016 at 10:26 pm


30 TuriingTest January 8, 2016 at 11:18 am

Ask him about the profile of him in the New York Times Magazine; specifically why is he such a jerk to people?

31 D January 8, 2016 at 3:20 pm

His nasty demeanor towards strangers has been publicly pointed out by multiple people numerous times. This does tend to be part of who he is rather than hyperbole.

32 Cisco Costa January 8, 2016 at 11:22 am

In the long term, do you think you and other personally benefited from the Alcindor Rule? If so, should a similar rule be imposed in current college basketball, other youth sports, and other educational contexts in general? If not, in what ways were you and others harmed?

33 Ano January 8, 2016 at 11:25 am

Your decision to “tell it like it is” regarding race relations in our country resulted in generally bad PR for you during your basketball career. Now these issues are going (incrementally) better now, and there seems to be a bit more public willingness to discuss the issues in a realistic way. Do you feel like today’s world would treat a young Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with more warmth and respect?

Do you think that giving a big man more post touches results in him trying harder on defense?

In today’s NBA it seems like everyone’s trying a bit harder overall than they did in the 80’s (which is the earliest I can remember). Back then everyone cared a lot and hustled when it mattered then, but today teams run more effort-intensive offenses and defenses and everyone is in better shape. What do you think is going on? Is it because the pay is better, or is it just some kind of natural evolution?

What do you like about writing columns vs. books? Ever thought about blogging?

What was it like developing the craft of writing (where you are a recognized professional-quality talent) vs. the craft of basketball (where you may be the best ever)? Was learning to write very well more fun, stimulating, frustrating, ego-straining? How did your later start affect things?

Any thoughts on comparing NBA players from different eras? People hold it against you that you reached your peak in the 70’s. How do you think your teammates and competition then would fare now?

Several of your books seem like efforts to elevate under-appreciated parts of the experience and achievements of African Americans. Is the mainstream narrative in history and culture doing a better job of recognizing these subjects, or are your books just as necessary now as they were when you decided to write them?

What are the pros and cons of writing with a co-author?

Do you think there is any constructive role for American Muslims to play in the Islamic world’s internal debate over extremism, and the role of religion in government?

34 Kyle January 8, 2016 at 12:37 pm

A focus on better conditioning seems to be a broader phenomenon across all sports, even things like rock climbing. Competition is higher, we’re better at it, and the benefits in skill/injury/performance have become clearer.

35 Rob P January 8, 2016 at 11:33 am

I’ve been a fan a his for a while. Excited you are interviewing him.

Does he have thoughts around improving education in underprivileged urban communities? Does he have ideas around grass root efforts(big brother/big sister etc) and/or institutional reform(ie Charter Schools)?

36 Techy3 January 8, 2016 at 1:55 pm

I’m curious about the converse question. Mr. Jabbar spent some time as an educator on a rural Amerindian reservation. During that time he must have seen children growing up and learning in a world quite different from the NYC where he went to school.

In a modern economy, world and culture that enables very information-dense and media-dense lifestyles for young people, what did he notice about how children growing up in a less media-saturated, less stimulation-dense environment? What and how did they learn or develop differently that city kids when he was young? What and how do they learn differently or develop differently that young people in modern cities and suburbs? How did he develop and learn in the city that they do not?

37 Paul o January 8, 2016 at 11:37 am

Who are your heroes? Who are your anti-heroes?

38 Brian January 8, 2016 at 11:38 am

What did he learn from his many years in basketball that help him in his current thinking and writing?

What coaches did he learn the most from and why?

Also, perhaps, ask him about his relationships with the other players on his famous teams.

And, what are his thoughts on some of his rivals – players from the Celtics, 76ers, Rockets, etc.

39 Floccina January 8, 2016 at 11:39 am

1. When he was so dominate that the opposing players would just try to push to hang on him, did he enjoy playing. (He looked like he did not and I think he said that he did not.)
2. Why does he think the hook shot is not used much any more?
3. What does he think of the 3 point shot.
4. Does he think the college ban on dunking made him a better player.
5. What things did he practice that gave him the best improvement for his effort.
6. How much did he practice when he was young and then through his career.
7. Why did he become a Muslim.

40 Brian January 8, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Apologies in advance for OT pedantic rant, but ugh, not another sports comment about how “dominate” a player/team is/was. I used to think this was just a typo, but after seeing the same mistake repeated so often over the years I now realize that a sizable number of people must think this is the way the adjective is spelled (and pronounced??).

No, the word you’re looking for is the adjective “dominant” that rhymes with prominent. Dominate is (always) a verb that (always) rhymes with nominate.

41 Floccina January 8, 2016 at 5:30 pm

Yes it was a typo.

42 observer January 8, 2016 at 11:41 am

What was his Isaac Newton moment which led to the development of the Sky Hook?

How relevant is coaching at the NBA level? Should player-coaches be more routine?

How does he pick a restaurant in a city you’ve never been to before?

43 Slugger January 8, 2016 at 11:42 am

He is a serious follower of jazz. Who are the young players, say the 30 and unders, that we should be listening to?

44 cheesetrader January 8, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Donnie the Trumpet – “Nothing Came to me”


45 carlolspln January 8, 2016 at 3:03 pm

“Who are the young players, say the 30 and unders, that we should be listening to?’

One of them is St. Louis pianist Lawrence Fields, 19, in Dave Douglas’ Sound Prints Quintet http://livejazzlounge.com/tag/lawrence-fields/.

The bassist is Perth born Linda Oh: a greybeard @ 31 https://www.greenleafmusic.com/initialhere/

Last, please ask Mr. Jabbar if he’s replaced his 10,000 album vinyl collection [he lost the lot in a fire in the early ’80’s].

46 Ted Craig January 8, 2016 at 11:43 am

Ask him for his views on the decline of centers in the NBA. And since he’s there to plug his book, what is the ongoing appeal of Sherlock Holmes?

47 Ted Craig January 8, 2016 at 11:44 am

Also, should NCAA players be paid? He was.

48 Ethan Bernard January 8, 2016 at 1:47 pm

Yes, ask him how he would reform college sports.

49 Floccina January 8, 2016 at 11:48 am

What does he feel about the fact that the fans like smaller NBA players better and cheer against taller players like him and Wilt Chamberlain.
What is his explanation of black dominance of basketball and football?

50 Alex January 8, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Related: Does he have any opinion on the public scrutiny of Ralph Samson?

51 observer January 8, 2016 at 11:51 am

What innovations are lacking in basketball right now? Would a start-up competitor league be able to incorporate those changes and be able to successfully compete/merge with the NBA (similar to how the ABA did back in the 1970s)?

52 Scott Sumner January 8, 2016 at 11:52 am

Did he play his best basketball in Milwaukee or LA?

Why can’t anyone else do the skyhook, given that it was such a powerful weapon for him?

Why are centers less important today, is it the 3 point line?

What was it like playing with Oscar Robertson?

53 observer January 8, 2016 at 11:55 am

“Why are centers less important today, is it the 3 point line?”

I still believe (my opinion although the data exist to investigate) that close-in shot by a center is more efficient than a 3-point FG by a good shooter. Ask Tim Duncan or Shaq if centers aren’t relevant in the modern game.

54 Jaunty Rockefeller January 8, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Shaq has been retired for 5 years… not clear his views on the relevance of centers to today’s game would be germane. And w/r/t the efficiency of 2pt vs 3 pt shots, it’s a fairly simple math problem: A player would have to shoot 60% on 2 pt shots to match the expected value of someone making 40% of his 3 pt shots. Shaq was right around 60% for most of his career, and he wasn’t shooting from much farther than 3 feet away, so the efficiency of an offense featuring him vs. Steph Curry is at least an interesting question, given the advantage of a higher number of fouls called against teams defending the post compared to defending the perimeter. But then again, he’s Shaq–not too many guys like him around. Even Tim Duncan only made around 50% of his 2 pt shots for his career.

55 albert magnus January 8, 2016 at 12:28 pm

A great center will draw a double team when he gets the ball in the paint and then pass to the open man who’s shooting percentage will improve when he is not being blocked. Basketball is a team sport.

56 Jaunty Rockefeller January 8, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Sure, but that’s begging the question. All teams would want a great center on their roster, if by that you mean Kareem, Shaq, Wilt, etc. But then they’d also all want great point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards, what have you. A team composed solely of great players doesn’t need to worry so much about optimizing strategy.

57 Philip C January 8, 2016 at 1:21 pm

And then there is defense. If you have a great center who might be able to shoot 60% from the low post, can they defend the opposing player they match up with?

Optimizing for offense alone isn’t the goal.

58 rayward January 8, 2016 at 1:50 pm

Good questions. As to the second question, I would guess that Kareem developed the sky hook because (1) he was skinny, (2) he couldn’t shoot (conventionally), and (3) the game was much less physical when he was developing his game (in the sense that referees didn’t allow nearly as much contact as today). As to the third question, I would guess that today the difference between centers (for teams that even have a center) and forwards is small – they are both large. The analogy in football is the difference between linebackers and safeties/halfbacks – not much. As for other questions, John Wooden and the Bad Boys.

59 Floccina January 8, 2016 at 11:55 am

BTW he is famous for playing basketball very well, I think most of your questions for him should be about basketball.

60 Bill January 8, 2016 at 12:02 pm

He is a huge Jazz fan, you may want to ask what excites him in the Jazz world these days?

61 Observer January 8, 2016 at 12:18 pm

I would have thought he’d remain a Lakers fan; he just represented them on a float in the Rose Bowl Parade. No real stars on the Jazz though, looking at their lineup.

62 Bill January 8, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Too funny…I meant Jazz, the music, not the team….He had a huge collection destroyed in a fire (mentioned earlier in these comments I see now), but would be curious what he thinks of Kamasi Washington etc..

63 Bill6 January 8, 2016 at 12:03 pm

His relationship with Johnny Wooden, his rating of all time centers, particularly Bill Walton and Bill Russell.

64 FE January 8, 2016 at 2:36 pm

Wooden had a reputation for teaching how to be a success in life as well as basketball. Did Kareem find that to be true?

65 D January 8, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Asking about Wooden should be a must question. He was a fascinating person.

66 black star liner January 8, 2016 at 12:07 pm

WEB Dubois or Marcus Garvey

67 russell1200 January 8, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Ask him if he, or Chuck Nevitt was the smartest Laker ever.

68 prior_test January 8, 2016 at 12:10 pm

You could ask him if in an average is over world, do black lives matter?

69 rayward January 8, 2016 at 12:21 pm

What does Kareem think about the Wilt Chamberlain theory of economic justice?

70 Richard January 8, 2016 at 12:37 pm

1. If racism and/or poverty are to blame for the trouble of black Americans, why do they commit more crime and have a higher out of wedlock birth rate than they did in the 1950s, when racism and poverty were worse by any measure?

71 D January 8, 2016 at 3:24 pm

Sneaking in the Walter Williams/Tom Sowell question is a good one with no easy answer. Too dangerous to ask.

72 Floydthebarber January 8, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Is 10,000 even a remotely achievable number?

73 tm January 8, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Kareem was an early adoptor of Bikram Yoga. Why did he start this practice? Does he still practice yoga? What does he think of the massive growth in yoga over the past forty years? Is his adoption of yoga and nation of islam indicative of a personal openness to (then) unconventional practices?

Of the questions already submitted, I would strongly second Sumner’s question about the sky hook.

74 John Hamilton January 8, 2016 at 1:04 pm

1. Charles Mingus, overrated or underrated?

2. Are Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors revolutionizing the game of basketball? (http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/stephen-curry-is-the-revolution/)

3. How should Islam adapt to modernity? In your ideal, Muslim-majority nation-state, does shariah law have any role to play?

In general, I get a sense that he can be a very reticent person, so good luck!

75 Philip C January 8, 2016 at 1:15 pm

More than 50 years after the march on Washington, the gulf between black and white Americans’ poverty has remained relatively unchanged. Perhaps it has gotten worse.


I’d like to hear Kareem’s thoughts on high leverage actions we can take (especially those of us who are highly educated and in the top 25%) to help ameliorate systemic poverty in America.

76 John Chant January 8, 2016 at 1:19 pm

He clearly is talent in many ways. Which of his many talents would he have used if he had been 5’11”?

77 Mark Brown January 8, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Why is Richard Wright not considered part of the Harlem Renaissance? And what is the difference between his vision of the American Black and the HR view? Where would KAJ fit in on that line? Can a muslim be a “native son” in the US? If no, is that the fault of the US? Which is closer to identity: race or religion?

And I’d love to know why centers abandoned the hook shot. Is it too low percentage, is it that the NBA became a brawl-fest so the skinny big man doesn’t have a place in the post, does it clog up the driving lanes for the Chris Paul’s of the world who drive, dish and (big-guy) dunk?

78 Tom Hutchinson January 8, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Why do you think that no other big man has been able to successfully incorporate the sky hook as effectively as you have?

79 Pshrnk January 8, 2016 at 2:36 pm

Could any current player even hinder your hook?

80 Steve Sailer January 8, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Yes, that’s a huge question. And recall that it’s not like the NBA progressed past the point where his sky hook was no longer effective, as happened to Wilt Chamberlain with his fall-away bank shot, which Wilt stopped shooting in the 1970s and concentrated on defense. At age 37, Kareem was the NBA Finals MVP in 1985 over the Bird-Parrish-McHale Celtics using the sky hook.

Also, was Wilt on steroids in 1972?

81 Tom Hutchinson January 8, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Or exactly what Sumner said above

82 Ray Lopez January 8, 2016 at 1:45 pm

I saw a patent once to make the game of basketball the same for ordinary sized players like you and me as it is for people over six foot. Simply put: the ball was smaller and the basketball hoop was lower. I’d ask him what he thinks of that? Let’s face it: for Karem, the basketball is the size of a grapefruit and the hoop is about where your door top is. In short, it’s “nerf basketball” not what ordinary folk play.

83 Jake January 8, 2016 at 2:01 pm

I have no interest in sports so my question is unkind, but there is probably a kind way to rephrase it and it might be interesting.

What is the point of basketball?

I don’t see any way in which basketball helps us to understand the world. Being good at basketball really is only really useful in the basketball court. Obviously if one is paid a lot of money to play it and the experience is pleasant it’s understandable that one would choose to be a basketball player. But if money were not an issue, why would anyone choose to live and breathe basketball for 20 (?) years?

84 Techy3 January 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm

When Mr. Jabbar entered the NBA it was, in some ways, a less consuming profession. Many players did not have personal trainers in the off season, many played multiple sports in high-school, few had media coaches and nutritionists etc. By the time he left the NBA the transformation to the modern game was well underway. Today professional basketball is- for many – a matter of nearly total devotion from a young age. Many of the best players were trained from a young age, drilled and competed to the exclusion of normal school (some even went to high schools that focused primarily on basketball) and other hobbies, and have a cadre of assistants, advisers and trainers working with them year round.

The elite rungs of the profession are populated by a number of players who seem to be hyper-competitive monomaniacs. Is this healthy?

Does Mr. Jabbar think that basketball players would be happier making $400,000/year but with a rich and varied set of intellectual and recreational pursuits than they may be making $15 Million/year but living a monomaniacal life? How would retirement from professional basketball have been different for Mr. Jabbar if he had lived his life they way Kobe Bryant has led his?

85 Virginia Postrel January 9, 2016 at 7:15 pm

Another version of this is to ask whether he would have even become a basketball player under today’s conditions, given his varied interests and talents.

86 TR5749 January 8, 2016 at 2:11 pm

Why has the Mikan Drill fallen out of favor?

87 Chad Reese January 8, 2016 at 3:22 pm

How do you think the role of professional athletes as agents of social change has varied from your time playing basketball to now? I’m thinking particularly of recent efforts to get LeBron James to boycott games in the wake of Cleveland police shootings, or the Miami Heat wearing hoodies to draw attention to the Trayvon Martin case contrasted with Michael Jordan’s infamous (alleged) “Republicans buy shoes, too,” response to calls for him to be more socially engaged.

Anything along these lines would be, I think, useful and interesting.

88 Bill January 8, 2016 at 3:26 pm

What would I ask him?

Did he use performance enhancing drugs.

89 Bill January 8, 2016 at 3:35 pm

OK, I realize this is supposed to be an econ website, so let me ask it a different way:

Kareem, If there were a non-detectable performance enhancing drug, would you use it if you knew others you competed with were likely using it.

That would lead to a discussion of the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

90 Dan January 8, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Why did the hook shot go out of the game? Its very hard to defend against and highly accurate.

91 Steko January 8, 2016 at 4:31 pm

I imagine Kareem has been getting large amounts of hate mail (religious, racial, geography/team based, etc.) for the better part of five decades (probably saw a spike after the Trump brouhaha), and probably has some interesting insights on the subject.

92 Kyle Lee January 8, 2016 at 5:37 pm

What would be the impact of athletes telling kids that they shouldn’t join gangs?

93 Luis Mier January 8, 2016 at 5:58 pm

If sports analytics where as available during his playing days as they are today, what impact would they have had on his game?

94 Bob Freudenheim January 8, 2016 at 6:10 pm

What are your practices now that are informed by Ashtanga yoga as taught by K.Pattabhi Jois? Also, how may we translate everyday practice as we age ?

95 robert January 8, 2016 at 7:11 pm

Kareem, do you think that today’s players don’t adopt the hook shot because it makes them look effeminate (much in the way that players don’t adopt the Rick barry underhanded foul shot?)?

96 Joe Mack January 8, 2016 at 7:55 pm

Did he really suffer migraine headaches on the court and play?

97 anon from cl January 8, 2016 at 8:21 pm

I would ask Abdul-Jabbar if he has ever made Hajj. If that is the case I would ask him how making Hajj has informed his opinion on different subjects: race relations – 2 million people from every corner of the world trying to live together in harmony for a few days, being a minority – black muslim in America as compared to black American in Mecca, how difficult it is for a world/regional to be responsible in using its power and treating its minorities fairly – Shias in Saudi Arabia or blacks in America, the uniforming and equalizing effect of clothing in society – considering his experience as a 2.18 mts tall lifelong tailored clothing wearer, and anything else you might think relevant Tyler.

I would try to make it an open question as much as posible, asking for any insights that he might have gotten while doing something so unique that it is probably unimaginable for any of us non-muslims.

Sorry about my english.

98 education realist January 8, 2016 at 10:50 pm

I would ask him what he thought of the recent NY Times profile http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/20/magazine/what-the-world-got-wrong-about-kareem-abdul-jabbar.html?_r=0

Because if he feels it was accurate, it says he never talks about basketball. He likes talking about his writing.

99 John S January 9, 2016 at 12:09 am

Why do today’s centers use the awkward jumphook instead of a skyhook? Aren’t young centers giving up millions of dollars in potential salary by not including the latter, more fluid move in their arsenals?

On a related note: why doesn’t Kareem work as a personal coach like Olajuwon? Seems like there would be a market for his instruction among young prospects and newly drafted players.

100 Mark January 9, 2016 at 7:14 am

how many people does he employ (personal and business)? What do they do? How much does he pay? How long is their tenure?

Does he have a business plan?

Does he have savings? How are they invested?

What was his lowest moment as an adult and how did he overcome it?
What was he told growing up that in his adult experience proved really bad advice?

He grew up in a traditional two-parent family in a predominantly black neighborhood.

101 GMF January 9, 2016 at 7:57 am

As you point out, Kareem has interesting views on the world that don’t fit a particular ideology. Since his comments have been dissected in so many places already, it’s hard to think of something new to ask him. Race, basketball, jazz, they’ve all been covered. I like the thought from the comments about asking him things from an economic perspective, but he’s not an economist so his answers might not ring true to you.
I would ask him to put his analytical talents to looking at the future. Challenge him with hope.

1) Give him a choice of working tools (monetary policy, legislative autonomy, moral example, etc.) assuming he can enact them, and longevity to put one or more of those tools into action. He can’t assume people will turn into saints, they are what they’ve always been, hence the need for longevity and patience in his actions. What would he choose to remedy the ills he sees and how would he go about it?

2) Does he assume/desire that seamless integration is the ultimate goal? If he doesn’t, what is? If he does, it took ancient Rome 200+ years to meld the patrician and plebian surnames to a point where social distinctions disappeared. What economic and/or social institutions does he think can aid in this goal? The military was one of the first to be integrated, so does he think ex-servicemen or some other extension of military life would work? Can sports serve this goal, and does he think there’s a risky shift into a bread-and-circus attitude?

3) Yeah, call him Murdoch a couple of times.

102 Todd Ramsey January 9, 2016 at 9:14 am

What made John Wooden such a good coach?

103 Nick_L January 9, 2016 at 9:44 am

Recommendations of the best places to eat?

104 dirk January 9, 2016 at 11:09 am

He says he read a lot of history books during his playing days. Ask him what his favorite books were.

105 dirk January 9, 2016 at 11:11 am

He said he read a lot of history books during his playing day. Ask him what his favorite books were.

106 metoo January 9, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Both of you are sometimes thought of as having “Aspy” tendencies. Maybe the two of you could discuss how an introspective, analytical tendency helped and hindered you in career and personal life.

107 0racle January 10, 2016 at 12:25 am

Since everyone is so serious- Just a fun question. Will you put your hand around my head while I take a selfie?

108 Mark Bahner January 11, 2016 at 12:30 pm

When he left basketball, was he tired of the grind? Or hurting significantly? Or did he feel like he couldn’t play well enough any more, but still really wanted to play?

After he left, did he watch games, and want to get back? If so, has that desire diminished as the years have passed?

109 Miri G January 11, 2016 at 11:03 pm

He wrote a TIME column on the role of activist athletes, what about the need for athletes to be role models within the community as well as spokesmen outside, and whether he wishes he had taken up education as a cause when still an athlete, before becoming an author? (His Library READ poster is in a suit, not team uniform)

Will the next Mycroft adventure return to Trinidad, or will other facets of Victorian Britain be explored, and what is his research/editing/writing process?

110 Shane M January 11, 2016 at 11:50 pm

I understand that Jabbar nearly went bankrupt at one point. I’m always interested to hear stories of the well off and their difficulties maintaining that wealth and/or living within their means. This ties into a conversation about the difficulty for athletes transitioning into a new life after the playing days are over.

111 David Penwell January 12, 2016 at 4:31 pm


Please ask him “when Showtime played the Celtics in the Garden, did not McHale-Parrish-Bird get away with violating the three second rule, constantly?” I remember watching those games and thinking they show sling a hammock up in the paint for those guys.

112 Steve P January 19, 2016 at 4:23 am

How did it feel to have a rule put into the game (no dunking in college ball) solely because of him? And how did being the, or one of the, best in the works at something for almost 25 tears prepare him for endeavors where he is not the best on the world (probably)?

113 Miri G January 19, 2016 at 5:18 pm

What is his writing and research process, Mycroft has great historical details down to Queen Victoria and John Brown, but suffers from some of the typical first novel pacing issues.

He has advocated that athletes be social activists and speak ‘truth to power’, is there a reciprocal responsibility for the role model to also advocate positive behaviors to their fan base?

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