Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shares a list of 20 things he wish he’d know when he was 30 years old.
18. Watch more TV. Yeah, you heard right, Little Kareem. It’s great that you always have your nose in history books. That’s made you more knowledgeable about your past and it has put the present in context. But pop culture is history in the making and watching some of the popular shows of each era reveals a lot about the average person, while history books often dwell on the powerful people.
Loyalty to my team is the real reason I didn’t come out sooner. When I signed a free-agent contract with Boston last July, I decided to commit myself to the Celtics and not let my personal life become a distraction. When I was traded to the Wizards, the political significance of coming out sunk in. I was ready to open up to the press, but I had to wait until the season was over.
A college classmate tried to persuade me to come out then and there. But I couldn’t yet. My one small gesture of solidarity was to wear jersey number 98 with the Celtics and then the Wizards. The number has great significance to the gay community. One of the most notorious antigay hate crimes occurred in 1998. Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, tortured and lashed to a prairie fence. He died five days after he was finally found. That same year the Trevor Project was founded. This amazing organization provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to kids struggling with their sexual identity. Trust me, I know that struggle. I’ve struggled with some insane logic. When I put on my jersey I was making a statement to myself, my family and my friends.
The strain of hiding my sexuality became almost unbearable in March, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage. Less then three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard, and I couldn’t say a thing. I didn’t want to answer questions and draw attention to myself. Not while I was still playing.
I hate to take a cynical note on this, but I don’t think Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, or anyone else in the NCAA really cares about young men going to college—or at least attending college classes. I think what they care about is whether or not these young men play college basketball, and I think what they would like is to have the NBA’s cooperation in doing anything they can to keep boys playing college basketball for as long as they can.
The simple reality is that most basketball and football players who wind up in the pros had little or no interest in going to college in the first place. They want to be first in line for the professional drafts that will take them away from the world of amateur sham, very reasonably wanting their talents to produce revenue for themselves and their families instead of university athletic departments. Now, when the boys are in the best position to make that pay for them, colleges pretending to show some concern.
“It makes a travesty,” said Emmert, “of the whole notion of student as an athlete.” One might call that poetic justice since for nearly a century colleges have been making a travesty of the notion of athlete as student.
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Wow, man wins how many consecutive games and after one loss the cleverly racist headline gets pulled out? What fickle, ignorant times we live in.
Happy 49th birthday MJ. (Walter Iooss/SI)
“Hi, I’m Canadian celebrity, Steve Nash.”
- Kobe Bryant, following his 48 point effort against the Suns last night, in response to this.
After a 149 day lockout, the NBA is expected to return, starting with a triple header on christmas day. The 2011-12 season will open with the Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, followed by Miami at Dallas in an NBA finals rematch before MVP Derrick Rose and Chicago visiting Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. - CBS