The Los Angeles Lakers celebrated the 75th birthday of franchise legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Friday during their last home game of the regular season.
Abdul-Jabbar’s birthday comes on April 16, but L.A. won’t have another opportunity to honor the legendary center’s special day closer to the actual date, as they have been eliminated from Play-In Tournament contention.
At halftime of the 120-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, many of Abdul-Jabbar’s former Showtime colleagues joined in for birthday festivities. The attendees included Magic Johnson, Byron Scott, A.C. Green, James Worthy, Kurt Rambis with wife Linda, and Paula Abdul, one of the first Laker Girls:
Showtime Reunion for Cap's birthday 👨✈️ pic.twitter.com/ATW7jkHsxA
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 9, 2022
After Abdul-Jabbar’s birthday cake made it onto the court, Snoop Dogg appeared in a video, inviting the Crypto.com Arena crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” for the man of the hour:
Kareem Bday Celebration at halftime pic.twitter.com/VvyEvVbjMS
— Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH) April 9, 2022
Abdul-Jabbar won five NBA championships with the Lakers during his 14-year stint with the franchise. He then worked as head coach Phil Jackson’s assistant coach between 2005-2011.
The legendary center also made a tremendous impact off the court, hugely contributing to conversations about race and religion. To honor Abdul-Jabbar’s activism and social initiatives, the NBA named its new Social Justin Champion Award after him.
Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony has been selected as the first recipient of the honor with Abdul-Jabbar presenting the 37-year-old with the award in person ahead of the loss to the Denver Nuggets on April 3.
Anthony describes Abdul-Jabbar’s influence on his efforts for social justice
Anthony said he felt “honored” after collecting the Social Justice Champion award from Abdul-Jabbar. The Lakers forward then talked about the NBA great’s influence on his social justice work.
“I know what he stood for and those was the messages that was kind of instilled in me in my community as far as what he stood for,” Anthony said.
“His fight, his social injustice fight for so long even when people was saying he wasn’t speaking or he wasn’t talking. He still was powerful and for him to be able to tell those story and guide this new generation and give us advice and let us still see him and let us still praise him and give him his flowers while he’s still here.
“When it comes to athletes and social justice, he’s at the top.”
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