Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says he ‘wouldn’t have been as misunderstood’ as he was in social media era
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is different from the NBA players of today.
In the modern NBA, players deal with more attention and scrutiny than ever before. The culprit? Social media.
From the exposure of Kevin Durant’s burner accounts to LeBron James melodramas of following and unfollowing Cavs social accounts during his time in Cleveland, every single move that players make seem to be under a microscope.
Earlier this season, Durant had a spell where he simply refused to address the media. Even more recently, Kyrie Irving — who has been a frequent topic of conversation on social media for his flat-Earth theories and contradictory statements about his future — said that he will not miss the media when his playing days are over.
In an interview with HoopsHype writer Alex Kennedy, however, former NBA legend and all-time scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stated his belief that social media would have actually helped people understand his character.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar believes he would've benefited from playing in the social-media era: "I wouldn't have been as misunderstood as I was, because I could've explained myself. I'm not bad at that! I think people would've understood [me more], but that's water under the bridge."
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) March 13, 2019
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was formerly known as Lew Alcindor in his collegiate days at UCLA and first few seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, but he changed his name after his conversion to Islam — a decision which drew public backlash in the 1970s.
Additionally, Abdul-Jabbar became close friends with legendary boxer Muhammad Ali–formerly known as Cassius Clay, who was also one of the most controversial figures of the era because of his conversion to Islam and refusal to enter the draft for the Vietnam War.
Muslim-American relations grew particularly contentious at the end of the 1970s following the Iran hostage crisis, and Abdul-Jabbar has gone on record multiple times about being subjected to religious persecution.