This Day in Black Sports History: February 23, 1986

Throughout his 20-year career in the National Basketball Association, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s trademark sky hook was virtually untouchable, much like the records he held upon his retirement in 1989.

But since his early years growing up in New York City, Abdul-Jabbar was destined to secure his place among basketball royalty.

In high school, Abdul-Jabbar, known as Lew Alcindor, Jr. before converting to Sunni Islam, led Power Memorial Academy, to a 71-game winning streak, a 79-2 overall record and three consecutive New York City Catholic championships.

At UCLA, under the tutelage of head coach John Wooden, Alcindor would be equally dominant, twice winning the College Player of the Year Award (1967, 1969), earning three First Team All-American honors (1967-1969) and becoming the first Naismith College Player of the Year (1969).

With Alcindor anchoring the middle, the Bruins’ three-year record was an astounding 88-2, and the team would win three straight NCAA Championships with Alcindor as the Most Outstanding Player in each Tournament.

During his sophomore season at UCLA, Alcindor boycotted the 1968 Summer Olympics, deciding not to join the Men’s Basketball Team to protest the unequal treatment of African-Americans in the United States.

When Alcindor’s college basketball days were over, he owned a number of records at UCLA that have stood the test of time, including highest season scoring average (29.0), highest career scoring average (26.4) and most points in a single game (61).

Not surprisingly, Alcindor was the first overall pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1969 NBA Draft and the first overall pick of the New York Nets in the American Basketball Association (ABA) Draft. In addition, Alcindor was offered $1 million to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.

Ultimately though, Alcindor chose to play for the Bucks, who outbid the Nets for his services after...

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