For the autograph collector, this particular athlete poses an interesting dilemma. What to collect? For the pure collector, finding a Lew Alcindor autograph is a challenge. He only signed this way during his collegiate playing career and up until 1971, when he officially changed his name. Finding a single-signed basketball bearing an Alcindor signature is a near impossible task, with most of the Alcindor material to be found on programs, 3x5s and basketball cards.
His current name, "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar," is typically seen signed just "Abdul-Jabbar" or a standalone "Kareem." Rarely does he combine the two. This autograph can be found on basketballs, jerseys, photos and cards. He typically signs his name with very large letters, making for a nice presentation piece.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr. on April 16, 1947-) was successful at every level of basketball in which he played, guiding his high school team to a 79-2 record, including a 71-game winning streak, leading the UCLA Bruins to three consecutive NCAA National Championships (1967-1969) and piloting his Milwaukee Bucks (1971) and Los Angeles Lakers (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987-1988) to six NBA titles. Known as Lew Alcindor, prior to converting to Sunni Islam and legally adopting the name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1968, he burst into the NBA making an immediate impact on the game as the two other dominant centers in the league were either retiring or slowing in the waning years of their career, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. Alcindor was taken by the Milwaukee Bucks as the Number 1 overall pick of the 1969 NBA Draft, and was taken by the ABA’s New York Nets. Alcindor turned down a $1 million dollar offer from the Harlem Globetrotters to play in for whichever team, Bucks or Nets, made him the best offer. Milwaukee’s offered lured the 7’2” center to the Midwest where he led the Bucks out of the cellar to a second place finish in the Eastern Conference in his first season, capturing the NBA Rookie of the Year Award while leading the league in points and field goals. Alcindor/Abdul-Jabbar played 20 years for the Bucks (1969-1975) and the Los Angeles Lakers (1976-1989), was a 19-time NBA All-Star selection, 10-time All-NBA First Team player and five-time NBA All-Defensive First Team player. He utilized his height and the hook shot, made familiar by previous players such as George Mikan, turning the skyhook into a most deadly weapon throughout his career.
Kareem led the NBA in points in his first three seasons, five times in field goals, twice in defensive and total rebounds and unofficially four times in blocks (a stat that was not acknowledged until the 1973-74 season). He was a 6-time NBA Champion (1971, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987-88) and was named the NBA Final Most Valuable Player – with Milwaukee in 1971 and Los Angeles in 1985. At the time of his retirement in 1989, Abdul-Jabbar held the all-time records for points, games and minutes played, field goals made and attempted, blocks, defensive rebounds and personal fouls. He also remains the all-time leader in playoff minutes played, field goals and blocks and is second only to Michael Jordan in points. Kareem was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995. In 1996, he was named to the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History list. Off the court, Kareem spent time as a coach in the NBA with the Lakers, Clippers and SuperSonics. As a Los Angeles resident, he was wooed by the lights of Hollywood and performed in numerous television shows and major motion pictures including the Bruce Lee classic Game of Death and Airplane! (Jabbar studied Jeet Kune Do under Bruce Lee.) Kareem is also the bestselling author of numerous books about basketball, civil rights and life.