Despite an improved performance, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was eliminated from the competition Monday night on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” He finished with a score of 26 out of 40.
Also missing the cut in week two was Arike Ogunbowale, who this past season led Notre Dame to its first NCAA women’s basketball title since 2001. Her clutch shots and remarkable performance gained national attention and encouragement from Kobe Bryant.
For his performance, Abdul-Jabbar and his partner Lindsay Arnold danced the salsa to the song “La Malanga,” which Abdul-Jabbar touchingly dedicated to his late father.
He explained that his father enjoyed music, and in Harlem, New York, where he was raised, the salsa was a popular dance in the nightclubs especially at the Savoy where his mother and father first met.
Dressed in a white three-piece suit, and with former teammate Michael Cooper in the audience for support, Abdul-Jabbar was more comfortable and animated this week and it showed in his performance. Whereas Arnold did all of the heavy lifting in week one, Abdul-Jabbar was more active this time around.
This season of Dancing with the Stars features a cast of all current and former athletes. Even though he didn’t win, it was obvious that everyone in the audience and on the show had nothing but respect for Abdul-Jabbar, who was by far the oldest competitor in the field.
It is a shame that his tenure on the show did not last longer, because Abdul-Jabbar really looked like he was enjoying himself. Still, as he said before the night started, he knew that somewhere up above his father was watching him and smiling.