How Bruce Lee helped Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during Hall of Fame career
The ESPN “30 for 30” on martial arts legend Bruce Lee debuts later this evening. Lee was a revolutionary figure both in the martial arts and Hollywood community. But he also had a fascinating impact on one Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“Cap” said he trained with Lee to enhance his flexibility and sharpness during his career, also noting how Lee’s insistence on stretching led him to take up yoga (via Caitlyn Holroyd of The Score):
The basketball legend spoke about training with Lee during a Friday appearance on “SportsCenter.”
“Bruce always emphasized the effectiveness of stretching,” Abdul-Jabbar told’ ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt. “So before we worked out, we stretched all the time. And that was it. I took that to another level by studying yoga and being able to advance as a yoga student, and that really was the best preventative maintenance that I could have been doing in the offseason.”
Kareem even shares a fight scene with Lee in the film Game of Death, in which he plays a character named Hakim.
Kareem was astoundingly durable throughout the course of his 20-year career.
Abdul-Jabbar never played less than 62 games in a single season. He played in at least 74 games in all but two years of his career.
Given how centers and bigs are often impacted by injuries–Yao Ming’s career is usually the reference point here–it is fairly miraculous that Kareem had such longevity.
Obviously, Abdul-Jabbar was more than just durable, he was dominant. The NBA’s all-time scoring leader was still averaging over 23 points per game at 38 years old, with his patented sky hook as one of the most definitive and elegant moves in league history.