An appreciation thread for a season that isn't remembered as much due to him not winning a title, but it may have been Kareem's best season. He led the league in FG%, finished 2nd in rebounding and blocks and 3rd in scoring.
Kareem led the Lakers to the best record in the NBA despite the lack of an all-star teammate, and a cast with not much talent.
Here is Kareem and then the other regular rotation players on the 1977 Lakers.
Kareem- 26.2 ppg, 13.3 rpg, 3.9 apg, 3.2 bpg, 1.2 spg, 57.9 FG%, 60.8 TS% 36.8 mpg, 82 games
Cazzie Russell- 16.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1 spg, 49 FG%, 52.7 TS%, 31.5 mpg, 82 games
Lucius Allen- 14.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.5 spg 45.6 FG%, 49.7 TS%, 31.8 mpg, 78 games
Kermit Washington- 9.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1 bpg, 50.3 FG%, 55.6 TS%, 25.3 mpg, 53 games
Earl Tatum- 9.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.3 spg, 46.6 FG%, 49 TS%, 18.4 mpg, 68 games
Don Ford- 7.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.6 apg, 46 FG%, 48.5 TS%, 21.7 mpg, 82 games
Tom Abernethy- 6.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 48.4 FG%, 53.8 TS%, 19.7 mpg, 70 games
Don Chaney- 6.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.7 spg, 40.8 FG%, 44 TS%, 29.7 mpg, 80 games
And despite Kareem finishing 2nd in rebounding, the Lakers were outrebounded by over 2 boards per game during the season, and to make matters worse, Kermit Washington who was their only other notable rebounder, missed the entire playoffs.
And if that wasn't bad enough, Lucius Allen was injured in the playoffs as well.
Kareem raised his game to ridiculous levels in the playoffs.
34.6 ppg, 17.7 rpg, 4.1 apg, 3.5 bpg, 1.7 spg, 60.7 FG%, 64.6 TS%, 42.5 mpg
There was a time not too long ago when practically all of his points were off the "sky hook" or dunks. Now he also shoots a left-handed hook, short turnaround jumpers and drives to the basket. He has worked on improving his game and knows he is a better player now than ever before.
"I've always had the ability to score in ways other than the hook, but this is the first chance I've had to do it. We'd be running into each other in Milwaukee if I tried to play there like I am now.
The first four or five years I was in the league, I was played basically one on one. There are 2 1/2 men on me all of the time now. One in back, one in front and a guard going for the ball. It's made it necessary for me to do other things."
Neither migraine headaches nor Clifford Ray have hindered the Lakers' 7-foot-2 center, who scored 40 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and blocked nine shots Friday night to lift Los Angeles to a 95-86 victory and a 2-0 lead in the series.
"Kareem has been absolutely magnificent in the first two games," Lakers coach Jerry West said. "I can't recall anyone being so dominant in all phases of the game in a long, long time. In both games, we struggled in several situations, but he went back in and really picked us up. I'll tell you, it's a good feeling to have a force like that.
Abdul-Jabbar has 67 points, 35 rebounds and 12 blocked shots in the first two games.
"He is playing the greatest basketball of his life," Golden State's Jamaal Wilkes said. "There's nothing we can do."
Abdul-Jabbar has been suffering from migraine headaches the past few weeks, including ones prior to both games against Golden State.
Because the top of his head is less than 3 feet below the rim of the basket, many people shrug at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's skill. But those people don't understand basketball.
"He has a tremendous burden," Jerry West, his coach on the Los Angeles Lakers, said. "He's expected to do more than anybody in the league; score, rebound and block shots."
And as he approaches his 30th birthday, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has turned that burden into a testimonial. He remains the National Basketball Association's most dominant player, second to Pete Maravich in scoring with an average of 27.2 points and second to Bill Walton in rebounds, with a 14.5 average and blocked shots, with a 3.04 average. But those numbers are not why Kareem Abdul-Jabbar believes that he is playing better than he ever has in his eight seasons.
"I have more understanding of the game," he said. "The little things you have to do well. When to switch, when not to. When to help out, when not to. When to pass, when to hold the ball."
Here are a few games that people have posted on youtube.
1977 Playoffs. Lakers @ Warriors Game 6
43 points, 20 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks
Lakers vs Warriors Game 7
Lakers vs Blazers Game 2
40 points, 17 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 blocks, 17/23 shooting
Lakers @ Blazers Game 4
30 points, 17 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 blocks, 12/20 shooting
Here are his numbers for each playoff game.
WCSF vs Warriors
Game 1- 27 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks, 7/12 FT
Game 2- 40 points, 19 rebounds, 3 assists, 9 blocks, 4/6 FT
Game 3- 28 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 blocks, 12/20 FG, 4/7 FT
Game 4- 41 points, 18 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 blocks, 11/16 FT
Game 5- 45 points, 18 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, 16/28 FG, 13/18 FT
Game 6- 43 points, 20 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks, 17/25 FG, 9/11 FT
Game 7- 36 points, 26 rebounds, 0 blocks, 14/26 FG, 8/10 FT
Game 1- 30 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 blocks, 11/19 FG, 8/9 FT
Game 2- 40 points, 17 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 blocks, 17/23 FG, 6/9 FT
Game 3- 21 points, 20 rebounds, 7 assists, 8 blocks, 5/12 FG, 11/13 FT
Game 4- 30 points, 17 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks, 12/20 FG, 6/9 FT
Remarkable consistency with the big games during the playoffs. Not only did he have four 40 point games in one series, but a season high 26 rebounds in game 7 of the Warriors series and a very rare 40/20 playoff game the game before. Not only did he have his season high in rebounds during the playoffs, but his 45 points in game 5 of the Warriors series were also a season high.
It's tough to have the same perspective on a season that I wasn't around to witness with such little footage, but it seems like Kareem's regular season consisted of more consistently good nights than big 40+ games, though as always, you'd get something like a 20 point 4th quarter from him for example as he did in a March 11th 94-91 win over Washington. As Jerry West said after that game "He made all the key offensive and defensive plays down the stretch." "If he's not the greatest player in the game, I haven't seen the other guy." Or a January 9th win over Detroit when they came back from a 12 point deficit in the 4th behind Kareem's 15 point 4th quarter in a Nationally-televised game.
The next game on January 11th, 1977, he hit the game-winner with 4 seconds remaining for his 40th point of a 101-99 victory.
These type of 4th quarter heroics are how the Lakers had the best record in the league despite outscoring opponents by only 2.7 points per game. 4 teams outscored teams by larger margins, but none came within more than 3 victories of the Lakers 53-29 record. 3 of those 4 teams had significantly larger margins of victories such as Portland(5.6 ppg), Denver(5.2) and Philadelphia(3.9)