LOS ANGELES – He started with Wilt Chamberlain and worked his way down. Bob Lanier. Bill Walton. Moses Malone. Artis Gilmore. Robert Parish, who delivered him three memorable championship battles. Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, representing the youth brigade, arrived in time to take their turns.
Over some 20 seasons, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stood across from them all. These were the men who helped form his training ground. If you wanted to be the best, to stay the best, you took on the best your peers had to offer. For a center during those two decades, the challenges came one after the other, the next only a night or two away.
"I understood that I had to keep my skills sharp," Abdul-Jabbar said. "If I didn't prepare and be ready to do what I had to do near the basket, I'd be embarrassed."
Now 62 and an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar looks out on the NBA today and says, politely, "It's a different landscape."Read More »from Life as a dominant big man can be a lonely one