Throughout his legendary career, former Los Angeles Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been a social and political activist. The six-time champion and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer over his 20-year career boycotted the 1968 Olympics and took a stand supporting Muhammad Ali’s decision to refuse induction into the military during the Vietnam War.
He recentlyin July and garnered attention for the biting humor of his introduction.
“Hello, everyone. I’m Michael Jordan, and I’m here with Hillary. I said that because I know that Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference,” Abdul-Jabbar said.
He’s now out with a new book called “Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White.” In it he writes about reclaiming the political process, starting with children.
“The U.S. used to have the best schools in the world, and that’s not happening anymore. The grade scores for U.S. students [have] dropped with regard to other countries. We flipped down, and the quality of education here in America is starting to fade a little bit. And we need to do something about that because knowledge is power. And the power that we have in our educational system has made it possible for us to take leadership,” Abdul-Jabbar said Monday on “CBS This Morning.”
Had he not played professional basketball, Abdul-Jabbar said he probably would have been a history teacher -- which is why knowing history in the current political environment is all the more important to him.
“History is very crucial because, as George Santayana said, those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it. And history is always the best tool to understanding the mistakes we’ve made in the past and avoid them going forward,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “So we need to pay attention to what’s happened here in our country and why and make sure that we don’t retrace those steps because that could be a very tragic misstep for our country.”
Asked about the recent controversy over Ryan Lochte’s claim that he was robbed at the Rio Olympics and, Abdul-Jabbar stressed the role of athletes as role models.
“It’s quite a responsibility because when you get that type of attention, and you have all the eyes on you, young kids are many of the people who are watching you. If you don’t do the right things, you kind of send a bad message to kids, and that’s something we need to avoid,” Abdul-Jabbar said.
Watch the video above to see who Abdul-Jabbar thinks is the greatest basketball player right now.