Kareem Abdul Jabbar – Net Worth, Career, Other Ventures

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By David

Real Name:Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Birthday:April 16, 1947
Net Worth$20 Million
Height:2.18 m
Occupation:Professional basketball player

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a former American professional basketball player. He had one of the most, if not the most unstoppable move in basketball, the Sky Hook. The younger generation might not remember him. But Kareem dominated the 1970s and 1980s. Over his career, he won six titles, six MVP awards, and two Finals MVP awards.

With the amount of money basketball players earn these days, Kareem’s net worth might come as a surprise. During his heydays, he had a salary of $1.5 million.

Many people consider him the greatest player of all time. Outside of basketball, he worked as an actor. And he is also a best-selling author.

Career Summary

Born as Lewis Alcindor Jr. in April 1947, Kareem was an abnormally large and heavy as an infant. By eighth grade, he was 6’8. During his young years, he played basketball. His size helped him excel in the sport. At the age of 12, Kareem could dunk the ball.

During his high school years, his basketball talent showed up. He won the New York City Championships many times with his team. He earned the nickname the tower from power. After high school, he quickly made it to the varsity basketball team at UCLA. Sports Illustrated pointed at him as the future star of basketball.

Fun fact: During his college years, he lost only two times. And he is the reason the dunk got banned in college basketball at the time. Simply put, Kareem was proficient with dunking and his height allowed him to dunk on anyone.

In 1968, Lewis or Lew Alcindor boycotted the US Olympic team. He didn’t join the squad. At this point, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The Milwaukee Bucks drafted him in the 1969 NBA draft. In his first year, he won Rookie of the Year and led the Bucks to the second place in the Eastern division. He quickly got the status of the highest scorer in the NBA. In his second season, he led the Bucks to the NBA Championship. He officially adopted his Islamic name after winning the title in 1971.

In 1974, Kareem asked for a trade. The Bucks traded him to the Lakers where he increased his scoring average. In his first few seasons with the Lakers, Kareem couldn’t help the team win the title. Things changed after the team drafted Magic Johnson in 1979. Together, Magic and Kareem won five titles for the Lakers. The dynamic duo was the best dynasty during the 1980s rivaling Bird’s Celtics.

By the mid-1980s, his career took a downhill. Kareem entered his early 40s, and he couldn’t perform as good. He started doing yoga to maintain flexibility and strength. In 1989, he announced his retirement following the end of the season. Due to his impact on the world of basketball, his retirement was a major event in sports. Fans gave him various gifts in every arena he played.

At the time of his retirement, Kareem held the record for most games ever played. He still holds the record for most points scored in the NBA. He scored a total of 38,387 points.


Back in the 1970s and 1980s, salaries were not as high as they are today. Six-figure salaries are the norm and minimal nowadays. Back in the days, paychecks did not reflect their contributions to the success.

During Kareem’s heyday, Magic Johnson had the highest salary of $2.5 million per season. Kareem earned $1.5 million per season during his Lakers years. During the 1983-84 season, only 11 players made more than $1 million per year. Only two of them, Magic and Moses Malone made more than $2 million.

Other Ventures

After he finished his NBA career, Kareem tried coaching. But his reputation resulted in little to no opportunities. Kareem is a quiet person, he didn’t talk to the press. A lot of people described him as an introvert. But he did manage to land an assistant coaching job for the Los Angeles Clippers and Seattle Supersonics.

And as a person living in Los Angeles, Abdul-Jabbar made it to the movies as well. He appeared in several movies and TV shows in cameo roles. For example, he appeared in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Scrubs. He also appeared on ABC’s reality series Splash. It is a celebrity diving competition. Kareem created the 2011 documentary On the Shoulders of Giants, based on an all-black basketball team.

Writing and Activism

Kareem focused on writing late in his life. He is a best-selling author and cultural critic. He wrote his autobiography Giant Steps in 1983. Since his retirement, he is a regular contributor to discussions about race and religion. He wrote a regular column for Time and appeared on Meet the Press.

In November 2014, he published an essay in Jacobin magazine calling for just compensation for college athletes. He wrote, “in the name of fairness, we must bring an end to the indentured servitude of college athletes and start paying them the way they are worth”.

Personal Life

Most of his money comes after his playing career. As we said before, he did not earn a lot of money by playing. The reason is contracts were not as high. But he published many books that detail his playing career and black history. That is where his money comes from.

He got married to Habiba Abdul-Jabbar and has three children with her. The two got a divorce in 1978. He has two other children.

In 1971, at the age of 24, he converted to Islam and adopted the name, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The name means “the noble one, servant of the Almighty”. He studied the Quran on his own and emerged from the pilgrimage with his beliefs clarified and faith renewed.

He often talks about his conversion to Islam. For example, he said “That was part of my heritage because many of the slaves who were brought here were Muslims. My family was brought to America by a French planter named Alcindor, who came here from Trinidad in the 18th century. My people were Yoruba, and their culture survived slavery”.

When he was a kid, his father found out about that. That gave Kareem the need to know more about it.