LOS ANGELES (AP) -The secret to his success was simple, basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told graduating seniors Friday at UCLA.
``There's a ball. There's a hoop. You put the ball through the hoop,'' joked the most prolific scorer in NBA history.
Then he turned serious, advising graduates to do as he did and pursue careers that will bring them both joy and improve the lives of others.
After he retired from basketball following 20 seasons in the NBA, the former UCLA star said he was frequently asked what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.
``With my witty charm, great body, and pivotal role in the film ``Airplane!'' I could have become governor,'' he joked.
Instead, he said, ``I did what no one expected.''
The Hall of Famer, who earned a history degree at UCLA, wrote books that promoted the lives of forgotten people of color. He also spent time coaching an Indian reservation basketball team.
These days he's on the coaching staff of the NBA team he achieved his greatest glory with, the Los Angeles Lakers. And he still appears in movies, on TV and in commercials.
It's that balance between doing things that are fun and those that are important that makes life worthwhile, the 60-year-old former center said.
``I'm not claiming that you have to sell all your worldly possessions, wander the globe in rags, and, worse, cancel HBO,'' he quipped. ``You should embrace and celebrate your pleasures.''
``But also prove that you are worthy of being successful by making yourself significant.''
Abdul-Jabbar led UCLA to three NCAA titles under coach John Wooden in the 1960s.
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