On March 28, 1982, former Los Angeles Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became just the 15th player in NBA history to play in 1,000 career games. The accomplishment coming in an otherwise nondescript 109-96 win over the Kansas City Kings.
Abdul-Jabbar glided around the court for 18 points on a typically efficient 8-for-11 shooting, while also pulling down two rebounds and dishing two assists in just 26 minutes for Los Angeles.
The game won’t ever be remembered as one of The Captain’s best outputs, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless, because while Abdul-Jabbar being the leading scorer in NBA history is well-known, the fact that he’s also one of the more durable players in NBA history is a less commonly bandied about piece of information.
Now, Abdul-Jabbar not missing many games as he climbed up the NBA’s all-time scoring ranks also might seem a bit like common sense (players can’t score if they’re sitting out with an injury, after all), but it is worth noting given that Abdul-Jabbar played a decent-sized chunk of his career while teams were still flying commercial airlines and not using modern recovery methods or benefitting from current-day rest science.
Abdul-Jabbar played in 1,560 of the 1,640 possible games he could’ve appeared in throughout his career. He appeared in all 82 games possible in five of his 20 NBA seasons while only missing less than ten in 18 of those 20 seasons. Abdul-Jabbar’s 1,560 games rank second in the history of the NBA, with only Robert Parish (1,611) appearing in more contests.
Further emphasizing the growing longevity of players due to modern travel and medicine, since Abdul-Jabbar became the 15th player to play in 1,000 games, 122 players have joined him in that club, with several more, like former Lakers forward Metta World Peace (991 games) falling just a handful of appearances short of the mark.
Abdul-Jabbar’s road to get there was just a bit harder, and yet another achievement on his nearly endless list of career accomplishments.