The Iconic Career and Championship Triumphs of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

When it comes to basketball, few names resonate as deeply as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Known for his skyhook shot and commanding presence, Abdul-Jabbar cemented his place in NBA history as one of its greatest players.

In this piece, we will delve into his legendary career and his championship triumphs, shedding light on the journey that earned him a coveted spot in the annals of the sport.

The Iconic Career and Championship Triumphs of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA Career

Born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr., Kareem Abdul-Jabbar embarked on his professional basketball career when the Milwaukee Bucks selected him as the first overall pick in the 1969 NBA Draft. Standing at 7’2″, Abdul-Jabbar’s stature was as immense as his talent, and he quickly established himself as a dominant force on the court.

In his rookie season, Abdul-Jabbar averaged an impressive 28.8 points and 14.5 rebounds per game, earning him the NBA Rookie of the Year award. His sophomore season proved even more successful, as he led the Bucks to their first NBA Championship in 1971, a feat underscored by his receipt of the NBA Finals MVP award.

In 1975, Abdul-Jabbar moved to the Los Angeles Lakers, marking the start of a new chapter in his career. Over the course of 14 seasons with the Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar won five more NBA Championships, bringing his total to six.

Throughout his 20-season career, Abdul-Jabbar proved not only a formidable player but a consistent one. He was selected to 19 All-Star games, earned six Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards, and became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, a record he still holds to this day.

His skyhook shot, a nearly unblockable move, became his signature, a testament to his unique style and ability to innovate in the sport. Abdul-Jabbar’s skill, versatility, and sportsmanship made him an icon in the NBA and a role model for countless aspiring basketball players worldwide.

Skyhook Shot

Abdul-Jabbar retired from professional basketball in 1989, leaving behind a legacy of excellence, tenacity, and integrity. His jersey numbers, 33 with the Lakers and 33 with the Bucks, were retired by both franchises, symbolizing the indelible impact he had on both teams and the NBA as a whole.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA career was nothing short of extraordinary. His contribution to basketball goes beyond his six championship rings and numerous accolades. Abdul-Jabbar’s career serves as a testament to what can be achieved with talent, dedication, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. His impact on the game continues to be felt, his name synonymous with the greatness of the sport itself

Kareems Championship runs

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

1971 NBA Championship – Milwaukee Bucks

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor, was in his second season when he led the Bucks to the NBA Championship in 1971. Partnering with another future Hall of Famer, Oscar Robertson, Abdul-Jabbar displayed a dominant performance throughout the season, averaging 31.7 points and 16 rebounds per game. The Bucks posted a remarkable 66-16 regular-season record. They blazed through the playoffs, sweeping the Baltimore Bullets in the NBA Finals. Abdul-Jabbar was named Finals MVP, an impressive achievement so early in his career.

1980 NBA Championship – Los Angeles Lakers

Abdul-Jabbar’s first championship with the Lakers came in 1980. Paired with rookie Magic Johnson, the Lakers were an unstoppable force. Abdul-Jabbar had another exceptional season, averaging 24.8 points and leading the Lakers to a 60-22 record. Despite Abdul-Jabbar’s injury in Game 5 of the Finals, Magic Johnson stepped up in Game 6, and the Lakers clinched the title against the Philadelphia 76ers. Abdul-Jabbar was awarded his sixth and final regular-season MVP this year.

1982 NBA Championship – Los Angeles Lakers

In 1982, the Lakers returned to the Finals, once again facing the Philadelphia 76ers. Abdul-Jabbar, alongside Magic Johnson, proved too much for the 76ers. They secured the championship in six games, with Abdul-Jabbar contributing significantly, especially in Game 6, where he scored 18 points.

1985 NBA Championship – Los Angeles Lakers

Abdul-Jabbar was instrumental in the Lakers’ 1985 championship run. The Lakers faced their long-time rivals, the Boston Celtics, in the Finals. After a devastating loss in Game 1, Abdul-Jabbar led a remarkable comeback in Game 2, scoring 30 points. This rejuvenated Lakers team went on to win the series in six games, securing their revenge against the Celtics and Abdul-Jabbar earning his second Finals MVP.

1987 NBA Championship – Los Angeles Lakers

In the twilight of his career, Abdul-Jabbar still played a key role in the Lakers’ 1987 championship run. Alongside a team brimming with talent including Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Byron Scott, the Lakers dispatched the Boston Celtics in six games, marking Abdul-Jabbar’s fifth championship with the Lakers.

1988 NBA Championship – Los Angeles Lakers

In Abdul-Jabbar’s final championship run, the Lakers, known as the “Showtime Lakers,” returned to the Finals in 1988. Against the Detroit Pistons, the Lakers pulled off a hard-fought seven-game series to secure back-to-back championships. Abdul-Jabbar, though not as dominant as in his prime, provided valuable contributions and veteran leadership. This victory capped off an illustrious career filled with triumphs and unforgettable moments.

How many rings does Kareem have?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a total of six NBA championship rings.

Six NBA championship rings

Kareem’s championship career highlights

Abdul-Jabbar’s championship career is filled with numerous highlights. He won his first championship in 1971 with the Milwaukee Bucks in his second season and was named Finals MVP. He then won five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988. His performances in the 1985 and 1971 championships earned him Finals MVP awards.

Which team did Kareem win the most championships with?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the most championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. He helped them secure five NBA titles.

How many Finals MVP awards did Kareem win?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won two NBA Finals MVP awards. The first came in 1971 with the Milwaukee Bucks, and the second in 1985 with the Los Angeles Lakers.

How many rings did Magic Johnson win with Kareem?

Magic Johnson won five NBA championship rings alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. All these championships were won during their time together with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1980 to 1988.

Did Kareem sell all his rings?

In 2019, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar auctioned off four of his six NBA championship rings. He decided to sell his rings, along with other memorabilia, to raise money for his charity, the Skyhook Foundation. The foundation aims to give kids a shot that can’t be blocked by bringing educational STEM opportunities to underprivileged communities. It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean he doesn’t value these milestones; he has stated that his commitment to helping kids outweighs the sentimental value of the rings.

What is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the record for the most points scored in NBA history with 38,387 points.

Did Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook contribute significantly to his scoring record?

Absolutely, Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook shot was a fundamental part of his game. It was virtually unblockable due to his height and the extension of his arm, contributing significantly to his scoring prowess.

How did Abdul-Jabbar impact the game beyond his championships?

Beyond his championships, Abdul-Jabbar is recognized for his sportsmanship, skill, and dedication to the game. His unique skyhook shot has been emulated but never quite replicated, highlighting his innovative influence on the sport. He is also an advocate for social justice, using his platform to address various social issues.


What other awards did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar win in his NBA career?

In addition to his six NBA Championships and two Finals MVP awards, Abdul-Jabbar won six regular season MVP awards. He was also selected to 19 NBA All-Star games.

How long did Abdul-Jabbar play in the NBA?

Abdul-Jabbar had a 20-year long career in the NBA, starting in 1969 and retiring in 1989.

Did Abdul-Jabbar coach after his retirement?

After retiring, Abdul-Jabbar expressed interest in coaching but never took a head coaching position in the NBA. He did, however, serve as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers and the Seattle SuperSonics, focusing on improving the players’ skills.

How is Abdul-Jabbar’s legacy preserved in the NBA?

Abdul-Jabbar’s legacy is preserved through his records, his induction into the Hall of Fame, and the retirement of his jersey numbers (33 with the Lakers and 33 with the Bucks). His contributions to the game continue to inspire and influence future generations of basketball players.


In conclusion, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career is one marked by exceptional skill, determination, and an unyielding commitment to the sport. His six NBA championship rings, numerous awards, and record-breaking scoring ability firmly establish him as one of basketball’s greatest.

However, Abdul-Jabbar’s influence goes beyond the court. Through his advocacy for social justice and his commitment to helping underprivileged youth through his foundation, he continues to make significant contributions off the court as well. Abdul-Jabbar’s legacy continues to inspire, reminding us that true greatness transcends the game.

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