When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was at UCLA, the NCAA ruled that players could not dunk the ball. Kareem would not let that rule go unchallenged. He began dunking all over the court. Players on the other teams were trying to stop Kareem, but he was too powerful. Kareem continued dunking until he destroyed the rule. The NCAA then banned dunking the ball, but Kareem said that was not enough for him. He wanted to destroy dunking altogether.
In college basketball, dunking was banned, a rule that a lot of people have a hard time understanding. Why did this rule get passed? I don’t think anyone knows for certain, but I would venture to guess it’s because college basketball coaches have a lot of control over the rules of their respective conferences, and dunking was a huge time-saver for offenses.
In the early 1970s, the NCAA had a rule that restricted players to dunking the ball underhanded or putting it in the basket when they jumped over a defender from the free throw line. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a basketball player from UCLA, saw this rule as a serious, unnecessary restriction to the beauty of the game. After watching professionals in the NBA dunking underhanded, he decided that if they could do it in the NBA, he could do it in college. Abdul-Jabbar invented a new strategy in which to dunk in college, and in November of 1972, he dunked for the first time in a college game against the University of Houston. He dunked again in a game against Kentucky the next day
Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem was targeted by the NCAA. He spent his first season on the UCLA varsity squad dunking on anybody. It was successful in the near term. The two-time national player of the year, then known as Lew Alcindor, didn’t dunk in his last two varsity seasons. The NCAA’s restriction on dunking, on the other hand, forced Abdul-Jabbar to create one of basketball’s most unstoppable techniques.
Basketball was going above the rim in 1967. The NCAA’s decision-makers believed Alcindor, who is 7 feet 2 inches tall, had an unfair edge. The NCAA proclaimed the dunk extinct in college basketball after the Bruins defeated Dayton for the 1967 national championship. The decision enraged the budding superstar, but he discovered a new method to dominate the game.
When Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem arrived in Los Angeles, he was already a celebrity.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar couldn’t play for coach John Wooden right away because to eligibility restrictions at the time. According to NCAA regulations, first-year students were not allowed to participate on the varsity team. During the Korean War in 1950–51, the restriction was relaxed. According to The New York Times, the national governing body of collegiate sports restored the restriction on freshman participating in 1952.
In 1968, the NCAA changed the regulation to enable athletes to compete in sports other than basketball and football. In 1972, all schools made freshmen eligibility mandatory. Kareem had to wait a season to join the varsity team. When he first arrived, he was a force to be reckoned with. As a sophomore, he averaged 29.0 points and 15.5 rebounds per game.
Meanwhile, with Abdul-Jabbar on campus, the Bruins were 88–2. They won the first three of their record-setting seven consecutive national titles. The big guy had to become inventive with his attacking repertoire when a dunking restriction was enforced in 1966.
According to the NCAA, no dunks are permitted.
For ten seasons, there was no dunking in college basketball, as unbelievable as it may sound now. High-flying athletes flew over the rim from 1967 to 1977 before softly depositing the ball into the goal.
Kareem perceived racial undertones in the decision, according to The Undefeated. The interview was initially given to the Chicago Defender, which is now defunct.
“I think the new ‘no-dunk’ regulation is a bit discriminatory. When you think about it, the majority of dunkers are black athletes.”
In reaction to the prohibition, Abdul-Jabbar reintroduced a childhood tool. According to Lakers Nation, Wooden was hesitant to let his star free with the skyhook, but Kareem’s skill won him over.
“I believe he simply saw that I could put it in on a regular basis. It was a high-probability shot. He just advised me to modify my shooting posture on the floor so that I could be in a favorable position. Use other bigs to your advantage.”
He traced the roots of his trademark technique back to a George Mikan exercise he did in elementary school.
“It’s a drill where you stand in front of the hoop and shoot the ball off the glass with either hand while practicing your footwork. You practice ambidexterity while also learning how to utilize the glass. It’s a fantastic drill.”
And it paid off for Abdul-Jabbar in a big manner.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became a legend after acquiring a weapon that was almost impenetrable.
Kareem Abdul-almost Jabbar’s unstoppable skyhook was his response to the NCAA’s dunking prohibition. | Getty Images/Focus on Sport
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was an instant success when he joined the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969. As a rookie, he led a second-year expansion club to 56 victories. The next season, Kareem and the Bucks established a record by becoming the first team in NBA history to win a championship in their third season.
Despite playing for Milwaukee for just six years, Abdul-Jabbar is the franchise’s all-time top scorer with 14,211 points. Unless he gets injured, Giannis Antetokounmpo will overtake him this season, as he begins the season with 12,319 points. Kareem’s scoring record isn’t uncommon. He scored 38,387 points in 20 NBA seasons, which is an NBA record.
Abdul-Jabbar claimed in a 2009 interview with ESPN’s J.A. Adande that his defender never blocked the shot.
“I don’t remember it ever being stopped by a security officer. Maybe a few people came to assist where I couldn’t see them, but if I knew where they were, they wouldn’t stop that shot because I always put my body between them and the ball before I launched it, and it’s hard to get to. I fired a lot of them on Manute Bol, who was [five] inches higher than me, and I made them without his stopping them.”
Would the skyhook have been Kareem Abdul-dominating Jabbar’s weapon if the NCAA had not sought to restrict his influence? That’s a topic for another time.
Basketball Reference and SRCBB provided the statistics.
RELATED: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Requested an Exception to a Rule, and It Might Have Helped the Lakers Win the 1985 NBA Championship
The college basketball season is finally underway, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (better known as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer) is back to face off against his old team, UCLA. The rule-book states that players cannot dunk, but Kareem has a secret weapon that he never left behind. He’s been playing with a glass-bottle basketball for over a year and can dunk on anyone. I think it’s time for Kareem and the college basketball community to become one and blow this rule right out of the water.. Read more about kareem abdul-jabbar bucks highlights and let us know what you think.
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