The NBA Hall of Famer, who coached the USBL's Oklahoma Storm last
season, is now an analyst on CBS Sports's college basketball
SI: When you played you saw yourself as a Miles Davis or John
Coltrane, someone who was a great soloist. How do you see
Abdul-Jabbar: Now my hero is Count Basie. When you coach, you
realize what it means to try and get a whole lot of people
together with different personalities and get them to perform
well night in and night out.
SI: You've said that Muslims should "reach out and explain that
the Bin Laden people use religion as an excuse for political
aims." Can you do that as a network basketball analyst?
Abdul-Jabbar: I don't know if I can overtly reach out like that
as an analyst, to just come out and make pronouncements. But I
hope that people will see that I am a patriotic American and that
my [Muslim] beliefs have nothing to do with what these Bin Laden
people are talking about.
SI: If the coaching job at UCLA, your alma mater, opens up, will
you pursue that position?
SI: Do you think they would consider you?
Abdul-Jabbar: I think they will. I don't have an extensive
history of coaching but I coached a team to a championship last
year in the USBL and I know a lot about winning on every level.
So I think that would get me in the door.
SI: You babysat for little Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee's son, when the
boy lived in Beverly Hills in the 1970s. Were you a good
Abdul-Jabbar: I was a very good babysitter. I used to let Brandon
beat me up.
SI: Does anyone still call you Lewis?
Abdul-Jabbar: Just Coach Wooden. Every now and then he'll slip.
SI: Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray once wrote: 'No man is
an island, but Kareem gave it a shot.' Have you finally come off
Abdul-Jabbar: Oh, definitely. The island, that's not a good place
to be, but I thought I could do that and play the professional
game and not be bothered. I was wrong. --Richard Deitsch
For more from Abdul-Jabbar go to si.com/scorecard.
COLOR PHOTO: BRIAN LOWE/ZUMA PRESS, INC. A good babysitter