Jerry West Digital Collection

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Oral History Clips

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Jonathan Coleman
Interview Date Tesim:
Clip 1:
KAJ: I saw him [Jerry West] play his very first year of professional basketball.

JC: That must have been interesting to him.    Did you tell him that, when he came to the gym?

KAJ: He probably knew. He might not know that I was at that particular game, but he knew I was around because in exchange
for letting the NBA practice at our gym, the Garden would give free passes to the guys on the Powers basketball team. So I got to go see a whole lot of NBA basketball. I got to go watch Wilt and Bill Russell and learn. My coach he would give us quizzes.

JC: Jack?

KAJ: Jack Donahue. He would ask us about what we saw and there were things that would happen that I didn't understand and I would ask him. Sometimes Bill Russell wouldn't run to the offensive end when his team got the ball and I didn't understand. Coach Donahue he said he is back there in case a steal or a long rebound happens, then they get an opportunity to come back, he is going to take away the easy basket because they are not going to shoot any lay-ups while he is front of the basket. I learned a whole lot about tactics and strategy with regard to how to play the game and watch the best players ever do it. It was an incredible seminar for me in high school.

Clip 2:
JC: I am interested that Jerry when he first met you wanted to ask you about yourself. Did he know anything about you or was it just he just knew you were a guy who played for Power Memorial?

KAJ: You know I was tall, a tall skinny kid and he just asked me about me, but it was real easy to talk to him. It was very natural, it wasn't difficult for me to talk to him. At that age, it is hard for you to talk to adults especially people you are in awe of, but it was the total opposite with Jerry, it was very easy to talk to him.

Clip 3:
KAJ: Great athletes have an innate quality to do what needs to be done to win.

JC: You can't teach that to somebody can you?

K.AJ: You can give everybody the mechanics of it, but after they have mastered the mechanics, that last bit that brings you forward out of the crowd, that is something that is innate.

A&M 3884; Series 13
Author Jonathan Coleman interviewing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the book, West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life. Kareem is a retired professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Clip 1:
Abdul-Jabbar describes seeing Jerry West and other basketball greats play at Madison Square Garden when he attended Powers Memorial Academy as a high school student.

Clip 2:
Abdul-Jabbar describes how easy it was to talk to Jerry West when he first met him.

Clip 3:
Abdul-Jabbar says that great athletes have innate abilities.
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Personal Names:
West, Jerry, 1938-, Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem, 1947-, and Coleman, Jonathan
Oral Histories