Kareem gives pre-game pep talk to NBA Entertainment crew Print
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Tuesday, 10 June 2008 14:09
NBA Headline News

 LOS ANGELES (AP) - As the group took in his every word, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar explained what was critical as the NBA finals headed into Game 3.
``The most important part of these games is teamwork, what all these players can do as a unit,'' he said.
The former NBA great, who won one league title with Milwaukee and five with Los Angeles, wasn't giving a locker room pep talk. He was brought in to get the NBA Entertainment staff that produces the league's multimedia content fired up for their busy night of work.
``For us, we're all about history, so you get someone like Kareem to come in, that's like our Abraham Lincoln,'' said Paul Hirschheimer, NBAE senior vice president of multimedia production. ``It's such an historic matchup, you can feel the history, and we wanted to make sure everyone's focused for the game.
``And who better to focus you going into the game than the only six-time MVP in history?''
Among other insights Abdul-Jabbar offered Tuesday was why the Lakers were especially inspired against the Celtics in the 1985 finals.
``We were very, very upset about having lost the year before to the Celtics. The incident with Kevin McHale tackling Kurt Rambis was very fresh in our minds, although it had happened a year earlier,'' Abdul-Jabbar said, referring to McHale clotheslining Rambis in Game 4 of the finals a year earlier.
``We wanted to do something to wipe the smile off the faces of the Celtics. They thought they could increase the rough play and push us off of our game, which they did in 1984. So in 1985, we were ready for that and did what we needed to do to win, and we had to deal with the rough play. That's just an adjustment in style and actually it helped our team.''
The Lakers need to make some adjustments if they are going to beat Boston this time, he said, just in the basics.
``Execute their offense, rebound better and be consistent on defense,'' he said.
The 61-year-old Abdul-Jabbar, still the NBA's leading career scorer, has another, quite different tie to the Celtics. As a high school star in New York, he saw some Boston games at Madison Square Garden, met Bill Russell and modeled his game after the Celtics great.
``Bill Russell taught me a lot about the game, just from watching,'' Abdul-Jabbar said. ``Position on the court, Bill Russell was always very aware of that, and I learned for myself from watching him.''
Holding a locker room-type chat with the NBAE crew was, in a way, a sign of how much Abdul-Jabbar has changed since his playing days. Essentially an introvert cast into the spotlight, he in the past was reticent to talk much to people outside of the game.
``I'm doing better with that,'' he said. ``You get so caught up in your profession that you don't really understand how it affects other people. You just understand how it affects you and what you have to do to maintain your position.
``It's hard for me to understand how intense people could be about what I did for a living. After I retired and had more time, it was easier to deal with people and get more perspective on how they feel.''
He's written a number of well-received books, including ``Black Profiles in Courage,'' ``Brothers in Arms and ``On the Shoulders of Giants.''
``I've been really lucky to have the opportunity to write, post-career,'' he said. ``It's worked out as something that really makes me fulfilled and enables me to communicate with more people.''
Abdul-Jabbar also has acted, appearing in such movies as ``Airplane!'' and ``Fletch.''
He's a special assistant coach with the Lakers now, credited with helping young Andrew Bynum greatly improve his play. And when Abdul-Jabbar is shown on the big screen at Staples Center these days, he always gets a rousing round of applause.
``It's nice to know that you made a positive impact on the game, and that people remember you for that,'' he said.
 

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