Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Interested in Returning to Bucks
By Andrew Wagner
MILWAUKEE — NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is interested in returning in some capacity to the Milwaukee Bucks.
“If I get a call, I will definitely offer my services,” said Abdul-Jabbar, the franchise’s career leading scorer with 14,211 points. “There’s nothing on the table right now. A couple of people have asked me and if I had the chance to be part of this franchise again, I would take it.”
In December, former Sen. Herb Kohl announced he would seek minority investors in the team, which he has owned since 1987. The franchise is at something of a crossroads, with an NBA-worst 11-46 record, struggling to draw large crowds to an aging building.
Still, Abdul-Jabbar sees Milwaukee as a viable NBA market.
“They have to get their business model right,” Abdul-Jabbar said Monday. “I hope that the Bucks are able to sort it all out and get on a good footing. You can’t win it all unless you get the right players and you can’t get the right players unless you’re really in a good position as a business.”
Abdul-Jabbar was in town in part to promote a new tourism ad for the state of Wisconsin that played off his acting role in the movie “Airplane.” He met reporters just before the Bucks’ game at the Bradley Center against the Utah Jazz.
Over the last few years, Abdul-Jabbar has expressed an interest in returning to the NBA as a coach. He’s worked as a special assistant with teams such as the Clippers and Lakers.
Abdul-Jabbar — then Lew Alcindor — was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1969 NBA draft and immediately turned the Bucks, coming off their expansion season, into contenders. Milwaukee went 56-26 and finished second in the Eastern Division behind Abdul-Jabbar’s 28.8 points and 14.5 rebounds per game.
Not long after the season ended, the Bucks obtained Oscar Robertson from the Cincinnati Royals, leading to a dominant 1970-71 season. They finished with a 66-16 record and swept Baltimore in the NBA Finals, becoming the fastest expansion franchise to win a championship in the history of major professional sports.
The Bucks returned to the Finals in 1974, losing to Boston in seven games. Robertson would retire just before the ’74-75 season and Abdul-Jabbar quietly requested a trade, looking for a bigger market and the chance to join another contender.
“They appreciated that and they appreciated that I kept my mouth shut about it,” he said. “I gave them the opportunity to approach other teams and they figured out the best deal they could make for themselves.”
Abdul-Jabbar got his wish in June 1975, when he was shipped to the Lakers in a deal that included Junior Bridgeman going to Milwaukee. Both players have had their jerseys retired by the franchise.
Bridgeman, who was honored by the team last week, also has been mentioned as a possible investor.