Kareem: America Embraces Ali Because He Was Right

As America grew in wisdom, its perception of Ali changed

The DA Show
October 18, 2018 - 1:15 pm

USA Today Images


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, but he is also an author, activist, and thinker. 

He dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Thursday to discuss social progress in America, including the 50th anniversary of John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. 

While much progress has been made in the last half century, divisions remain.

“I think the thing that split our nation down the middle before (was) the Vietnam War,” Abdul-Jabbar said on The DA Show. “That split our country. And now it’s more about certain people having a nostalgia for a time when, if you were a white person, you had an advantage just for being white. That’s not very common now. That’s something that can’t continue to exist because our country is now very racially diverse. White supremacy is not something that’s going to fly, and some people are upset about it. But we have to move forward.”

Abdul-Jabbar also discussed Muhammad Ali, who was once vilified but ultimately revered for his social beliefs.


“Well, I think we eventually reached a position of wisdom, and we can see where Muhammad Ali was correct in his assessment of what was happening in those days,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “Most people don’t want to identify with something that’s incorrect. America feels good now about embracing Muhammad Ali because he was right. I think that as we figure out what’s right and wrong with various situations, we’ll come to a right decision. That seems to happen all the time in this country.”

Abdul-Jabbar, 71, is perhaps the greatest basketball player of all time. He won three national championships at UCLA and six NBA titles with the Lakers. He was a three-time Player of the Year, a three-time Final Four Most Outstanding Player, a six-time NBA MVP and a two-time Finals MVP.

He is as happy now as he’s ever been. In fact, he may be even happier.

“Yeah, I think so because as you live your life, you figure out what really counts,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “You get to understand what actually makes you happy.”