Abdul-Jabbar still dominant in life after basketball

February 15, 2012

As an NBA star for 20 seasons, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made a career out of outdoing himself. Amazingly, that trend has continued outside of basketball for the NBA’s all-time scoring leader.

When Abdul-Jabbar ended his playing career in 1989, no NBA player in history had scored more points, blocked more shots, won more Most Valuable Player Awards, played in more All-Star Games or logged more seasons. In life after basketball – as an author, filmmaker and United States Department of State Cultural Ambassador – Abdul-Jabbar has proved to be just as diverse and successful as he was on the court.

Since retiring as a six-time NBA championship player in 1989, Abdul-Jabbar has focused his energies on expansive socially-minded projects that cover African-American history and socioeconomic justice such as his 2011 critically-acclaimed documentary On the Shoulders of Giants, as well as numerous speaking engagements, appearances in a variety of media and charitable work to improve the lives of children through his Skyhook Foundation. He is also the best-selling author of seven books, including his first children’s book What Color is My World: The Lost History of African American Inventors, which released in early 2012.

Perhaps no event was more symbolic of the six-time NBA champion’s off-court success than his recent meeting with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington D.C. In the meeting, Clinton discussed Abdul-Jabbar’s new role as a global Cultural Ambassador and reiterated the United States’ strong commitment to engaging young people worldwide.

“My whole message is that knowledge is power,” Abdul-Jabbar said in a recent interview. “I think when young people understand what went on before them – and the values that helped those things come in to existence – that they will figure out what they want to do in order to build on them.”

After the meeting with Clinton, Abdul-Jabbar embarked on a trip to Brazil to help strengthen the already deep relationship between the people of the United States and Brazil. He will continue with his duties as Cultural Ambassador throughout 2012, with information on his upcoming trips to be released on Twitter.com/KAJ33 and Facebook.com/KAJ.

“I am excited and honored to serve my country as a Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “I look forward to meeting with young people all over the world and discussing ways in which we can strengthen our understanding of one another through education, through sports and through greater cultural tolerance."

And so a new chapter starts for the Abdul-Jabbar, whose basketball accomplishments stand as tall as the man himself. His list of personal and team accomplishments is staggering: Rookie of the Year, member of six NBA championship teams, six-time NBA MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 19-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion, and a member of the NBA 35th and 50th Anniversary All-Time Teams. But for Abdul-Jabbar, life has moved on and today he’ a true success story in the game of life.

“I can do more than stuff a ball through a hoop,” he says, summing up his life’s philosophy in simple terms. “My greatest asset is my mind.”