Milwaukee Bucks: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar calls city his “place of birth”

Jul 14, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 14, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Another Milwaukee Bucks legend is in the news this week!

First, it was Bob Dandridge getting his rightful and long-awaited induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and now one of his former championship teammates is saying nice things about the city of Milwaukee.

Bucks legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did a one-on-one interview with Marc Stein on Substack as Abdul-Jabbar has announced his own Substack page. The interview can be found here, where Abdul-Jabbar speaks on a number of topics, including his passion for writing, LeBron James breaking his all-time scoring record, the current day Player Empowerment Era, and if he believes he should be in the Greatest of All-Time discussion.

Of note for Bucks fans, though, are two questions and answers in particular. First, in the theme of the Player Empowerment Era, Stein asks how Abdul-Jabbar and the Bucks were able to keep his trade request from Milwaukee so secret, given how common it is for trade requests to be public now.

"“There were a lot fewer reporters then because there were a lot fewer outlets clamoring for content. The siren song of Twitter and the need to feed hungry followers didn’t exist. Mostly the reason we were able to keep it secret was because everyone acted with honor and good faith.”"

This is a pretty simple answer, but it’s interesting to note that Abdul-Jabbar believed that the Bucks management at the time treated the request with honor. Obviously, we have seen trade demands be very messy between the team and player, so it can bring solace to some fans that he holds no ill-will towards the organization because they handled it well.

The other answer is a much more positive one for Bucks fans to read, especially considering some of Abdul-Jabbar’s comments about the Bucks earlier in the playoff run.

Milwaukee Bucks legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar calls the city of Milwaukee his “place of birth”

One of the questions that Stein asks Abdul-Jabbar is about him returning to Milwaukee to watch the Bucks win the NBA Championship and the idea of “reconnecting” with the fanbase. Abdul-Jabbar was very complimentary of Bucks fans and the city of Milwaukee.

"“The Milwaukee fans were always very supportive of me, even when I converted to Islam and changed my name. That had to be a hard transition for them, especially 50 years ago. So being back in Milwaukee was like returning to my place of birth, because that’s where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born.”"

This is, of course, is very high praise from one of the best players to ever put on a Bucks uniform. Not everywhere would have been as accepting of such a change, especially at that time in history, so to hear that the fans treated him well even after that change is good to hear.

He also spoke about watching the game with former teammate Oscar Robertson, who combined to lead the Bucks to their first championship in 1970-71 and watched the team win it again 50 years later.

"“Being there with Oscar was especially rewarding because he’s always been like a big brother to me. I often relied on his wisdom and experience to help me navigate my early career.”"

The Bucks likely don’t win the title without the acquisition of Robertson to be the second star with Abdul-Jabbar and would have been looking at a relatively lengthy championship drought had it not been for those two. Even as someone who wasn’t born at the time, it’s always special to see Abdul-Jabbar and Robertson together at Bucks games. It certainly added to the good vibes around winning a championship, having the two stars that brought the first championship to the organization.

It’s also good to see Abdul-Jabbar saying nice things about the city and fans after being (rightfully) criticized for saying the Bucks weren’t going to win a championship as currently constructed. He would eventually pick the Bucks to beat the Suns for the championship when they got to the Finals, but it was a rough time between Abdul-Jabbar and Bucks fans for a few months.

Milwaukee Bucks: Bob Dandridge finally gets his due. dark. Next

It’s always an honor to have Abdul-Jabbar at the games, so hopefully, we get more appearances from him courtside this season.