Today in 1971, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored a career-high 55 points in Milwaukee’s 120-104 victory over Boston. It’s somewhat suprising his career high wasn’t higher.
And that’s not a slight to the former Lew Alcindor at all. He was just such a dominant player for such a long time, and considering he is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, I would’ve guessed it would have been north of 60-65 points.
In just his third NBA season, in front of just over 10,000 people, he set his career mark as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. Check out the box score here and just look at some of those classic, hall of fame names: Chaney, Cowens, Havlicek, Robertson and Dandridge.
In 20 professional seasons, he never averaged less than double figures, and in 17 of those seasons, he averaged 20+. A lot of his points scored came via the famous “Sky Hook” shot that he created while in just the fifth grade. It’s interesting because his proficiency at it made him synonymous with it, which in a lot of ways, limits how he is remembered historically. It’s like a game of word association, when I say “Sky Hook”, you’re going to say “Kareem”, to the point where it obscures his dominance in all other areas. In college, the dunk was outlawed from 1967 until 1976 because of his overpowering use of it.
The average NBA fan knows that Abdul-Jabbar is the highest scorer in league history, but did you also know he is also the leader in games played, minutes played, field goals made, field goals attempted, blocked shots, defensive rebounds AND personal fouls?
The most amazing stat of all may be that he currently ranks 35th in NBA history in assists! From 1970 to 1989 he missed one all-star game. There are may be a handful of players who have made the impact that Kareem made to the game.
Abdul-Jabbar won six NBA championships, six regular season MVP awards, two Finals MVP awards, led the league in scoring average twice, rebounding average once, and blocks per game four times.
41 years ago tonight, Kareem scored more points than he ever would in another NBA game.