Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is known for what he did as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s, helping the team win five NBA Championships in the decade. But what is his favorite memory when playing in L.A.? PopCulture.com recently caught up with Abdul-Jabbar, who revealed two moments that stand out because of the opposing team the Lakers faced.
"Well, winning back-to-back in '87 and '88, that was very satisfactory, and beating the Celtics, jeez, that was something that the whole city wanted to see happen, and when it finally did, quite a relief," Abdul-Jabbar said to PopCulture. "I remember in '85, I heard from players like Tommy Hawkins and Jerry West, they were all just glad that we finally beat the Celtics."
Abdul-Jabbar helped the Lakers win championships in 1980, 1982 and 1985 to go along with 1987 and 1988 as he mentioned. With him, Magic Johnson and head coach Pat Riley, the Lakers were the team of the 1980s and became household names.
"We were a very confident team because we had a talented team that could stay healthy, and hopefully stay focused," Abdul-Jabbar said. "You have everything going and you lose your focus, you lose a game. I think of game one in 1985, the Memorial Day massacre, my own play... And I was just so relieved that we've made it back to the Finals that I just let myself relax in a way that I couldn't do that, and that first game was horrible. Fortunately, I was able to turn that around and we had a wonderful result, but there were ups and downs. It's a tough game to play consistently, game in and game out. That consistency really is what sets the greats apart from the average players."
As much success as Abdul-Jabbar had with the Lakers, he made a name for himself when he played for the Milwaukee Bucks from 1969-1975. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1970, he won the scoring title in 1971 and 1972 and led the team to the NBA title in 1971. However, in 1975, Abdul-Jabbar requested to be traded as he wanted to be in another city.
"I just wanted to get someplace where the team had the potential to win," Abdul-Jabbar said when talking about his trade request. "The way things were in Milwaukee, Oscar [Robertson] had retired, I had been injured for a year, things weren't looking too good as far as draft prospects. It was time for me to get out of there."