Early Life and College Career
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. on April 16, 1947. He played under the name Lou Alcindor until 1971. The day after the Milwaukee Bucks won the 1971 Championship, he adopted the Muslim name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Under the tutelage of coaching legend John Wooden, Abdul-Jabbar won three Most Outstanding Player awards in the NCAA tournament. Abdul-Jabbar was on UCLA teams that won three consecutive National Championships.
Milwaukee Bucks – Three MVPs
With the first pick in the 1969 NBA draft the Expansion Milwaukee Bucks selected Alcindor (Abdul-Jabbar). This season Kareem took home the first of many awards and accolades, winning rookie of the year.
First MVP 1970-71 Season
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won his first MVP beating out the logo Jerry West and Dave Bing. He averaged 31.7 PPG, most in the league, and had a 22.3 win share. He led the Bucks to a 12-2 Playoff record and a sweep in the NBA Finals over the Baltimore Bullets. Kareem also took home Finals MVP. This unfortunately remains the only championship in Bucks history.
Second MVP 1971-72 Season
Abdul-Jabbar won his second MVP beating out Jerry West again and Wilt Chamberlain. He repeated as scoring champ with 34.8 PPG. He also had a mammoth 25.4 win shares. This Bucks team couldn’t repeat as champs sadly, losing to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
Snub 1972-73 season
Kareem finished second to Dave Cowens despite averaging 30.2 PPG and 16.1 RPG. Its crazy to think Kareem was within 12% of votes to winning 4 consecutive MVPs.
Third MVP 1973-74 Season
KA-J won his third MVP as a Milwaukee Buck over two great Bobs, McAdoo and Lanier. Kareem was third in scoring, fourth in rebounding, second in blocks and field goal percentage.
Unfortunately the Bucks missed the playoffs in 1974 and Abdul-Jabbar requested a trade to New York or Los Angeles to better accommodate his Muslim lifestyle. It was also in 1974 that he started wearing his signature goggles after his second scratched cornea.
Kareem was traded to the Lakers in October of the 1975 season.
Los Angeles Lakers – Three MVPs
Fourth MVP 1975-76 Season
Kareem won his fourth MVP in his second season with the Lakers over Bob McAdoo again and former MVP Dave Cowens. Kareem was second in scoring with 27.7 PPG, first in rebounding with 16.9 RPG. He was also first in blocks with 4.1 BPG and fifth in field goal percentage at 52.9%. Similar to his final year in Milwaukee the Lakers missed the playoffs.
Fifth MVP 1976-77 Season
Kareem won back to back MVP awards again over all time greats Bill Walton and Pistol Pete Maravich. He was third in points with 26.2 PPG and second in rebounds with 13.3 RPG. He led the league in field goal percentage at 57.9% and was tied with the aforementioned Walton for first in blocks with 3.2 BPG. This Lakers team lost in the Western Conference Finals.
Sixth (and final) MVP 1979-80 Season
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar impressively won MVP in the first year of the three point line and the year Magic Johnson was drafted. He won his final MVP over legends Dr. J (Julius Erving), George Gervin, and Larry Bird. He was sixth in points with 24.8 PPG and eighth in rebounding with 10.8 RPG. He led the league in blocks with 3.4 BPG and was second in field goal percentage at 60.4%. In his final MVP campaign the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship and began their dynasty.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the record for most career MVP awards to this day with six. He also holds a slew of all time records in the NBA including, points (38,387), minutes (57,446), field goals (15,837), field goal attempts (28,307), blocks (3,189), defensive rebounds (9,394), wins (1,074) and fouls (4,657).
KA-J was such a dominant post player that NCAA made dunking against the rules for almost 10 years. He remains adored by Bucks, Lakers and sports fans everywhere. In addition to being a basketball legend he’s also expanded his reach by being a global ambassador and mentor to athletes and people everywhere. Long live Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
For our other MVP Spotlights, check below!
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