Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Translation missing: en.products.general.regular_price

Artist Statement

Kareem is one of my all-time favorite athletes, and it was an honor to create this piece. The painting was originally commissioned by Adidas in 1984 to commemorate Kareem becoming the NBA’s All-Time Scoring Leader. I had followed his career growing up and attending games at UCLA when he led the Bruins to multiple NCAA titles. He was an athlete who literally changed the game. Few people remember that basketball players in high school and college were not allowed to dunk the ball from 1967 to 1975. The leaders of the NCAA felt Kareem’s (Lew Alcindor was his name at the time) ability to dunk gave him too much of an advantage over his competitors so they banned dunking altogether. The Alcindor rule, as it came to be known, was later rescinded in 1976.

As a result, Kareem’s patented move, the Sky Hook, became his go-to. There has never been a scoring weapon in basketball before or since that compares to his signature shot. Impossible to stop, opponents just had to hope he missed—otherwise it was nearly an automatic two-points once the ball left his hand. When it came to conceiving an idea for the painting there was no doubt in my mind of what I wanted to create. A towering symbol of style and grace reaching through the clouds; reaching heights that only a man of his intellect and stature could attain. 

What makes me most proud of this piece is the fact that years after its creation, Kareem made the decision to use it as an entry image on his personal website. Kareem’s career after basketball has been equally as great as a global icon he has become an award-winning author/historian, social activist, filmmaker/producer, and ambassador of education. Just as the Sky Hook became his signature move, the Sky Hook image has become one of my signature works of art.