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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Interview




| Jan. 31, 2006

Tuesday night the Los Angeles Lakers were in Madison Square Garden to battle the New York Knicks. Before the game, editor Jeff Lenchiner spoke with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, asking the first bunch of questions below, after which two other reporters joined in. Enjoy the interview.

Question: So were you at Kobe Bryant's 81-point game?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Yeah.

Question: And what was your reaction as he kept piling it on, not slowing down but turning it up?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Well you know, the first half I thought he might go for 40 or 50. In the second half, he got hot. It was something to see. An amazing performance.

Question: And to you, at what point did it go from looking like a special yet regular game to something amazing and historical?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Going from the third quarter to the fourth quarter. I forget how many he had at the end of the third quarter. I thought maybe he's going to break his own record, then he broke Elgin's record [Elgin Baylor]. It's funny, I was here November 9th, 1960 I was at Madison Square Garden when Elgin got the 71. So I think I'm the only person that's gone to both games. It's kind of a neat thing for me, as a fan.

Question: How do those two games compare?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Oh, they don't compare. Kobe did it with the three-point line and a whole different league. When Elgin did it there were eight teams in the league, a totally different ambience.

Question: From watching Kobe, did you see him rising up to this level?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: No, I couldn't say I saw it coming. I was not unused to seeing Kobe score 40, but you go above 50, it's a rarified atmosphere.

Question: When you work with Chris Mihm, are you giving him a skyhook?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: No no, I'm not trying to make him shoot a skyhook, I just think he's good, he can shoot a hook-shot with either hand in his style, and he just didn't know how to use it. I think his coaches tried to give him guard skills, and he can't use those around the basket. They don't work. It took a while to figure that out. But I helped him with that. And now he's having quite an effect. I think he's giving us really good minutes and he's creating situations in thhre that help the team.

Question: Is the hook still a great weapon, as a post-move if guys know how to use it? You don't see too many guys shoot it.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Until human beings evolve longer arms, it's going to work.

Question: Why don't more guys have it as a weapon?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: I think it just fell out of fashion. When I learned it, it was falling out of fashion. George Mikan had retired. I think the only guy in the NBA when I was in high school that used it was Cliff Haven. He still used it a lot. And Bill Russell, a little bit.

Question: And guys who use it now, who do you think of?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Chris Mihm. I'm showing Andrew how to use it. Other than that, not too many people are interested.

Question: I remember before the draft, Andrew Bynum said he did shoot the hook and liked using it. Have you seen him using it, and have you been working with him?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: I've been working with Andrew. That's why I'm here, so, we work every day.

Question: What are your memories of this building? Are you a fan of the Garden?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Well, the Garden I was familiar with is on 49th street and 8th avenue. So this building, I kind of have a grudge against this building because I was a big fan of Penn Station. So, I'm an old-time New Yorker. I got those issues. But this is where the Knicks won their first world championship. I came here and played in the Holiday Festival and did very well. Had positive memories here in that sense.

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