Sunday, February 19, 2006

Interview With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Why hasn't a man of your experience and prestige ever been offered a major head-coaching job in college or pro ball? "I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I didn't want to talk to anybody when I was playing. I just wanted to play and go home, and they didn't think I had the communications skills. I could've been more accommodating and opened up to the press, and that might've changed some perceptions. But when I got interested in coaching, a lot of people in the press said, 'He can't do it.' And that has become maybe an urban myth.''

From the times I've seen you work as an analyst, I thought you showed great knowledge and were articulate. "It's a simple game. I talk to [former UCLA] coach [John] Wooden from time to time. He reinforces that concept. I think there's a lot I know about the game that needs to be transferred to the new generation. I got my basic knowledge from coach Wooden and what I saw in high school. Attending a lot of doubleheaders at Madison Square Garden, I got to watch a lot of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, and I saw how the game is played. My high school coach really promoted the Celtics' team play.

Oftentimes after they had played, he'd ask us, 'How many guys on the Celtics got 20 points?' Nobody had 20 points. But their shooting percentage was close to 60 percent. They played team defense. They passed the ball, found the open man and that guy took the shot. It made me understand what the game should be about.''

How are you enjoying your present job as a Lakers assistant? "I'm having fun training Andrew Bynum. He's a nice kid. He wants to learn. I have some knowledge that definitely will help him, and he has been very respectful and receptive. He has the ability to dominate inside with his size, length, quickness and agility. I expect him to do well. I still hope to get a head-coaching job somewhere. But for now, I just want to do a good job for the Lakers.'' Chicago Sun-Times


(photo credit: ESPN)


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