BLACK HISTORY Month is celebrated every February in the United States. Earlier this year, adidas and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar launched a special limited edition collection in honor of the occasion with the brand’s ambassadors wearing the shoes during the Martin Luther King Day games last January 19 and in selected games throughout February.
Four popular shoe models – the Crazy 8, J Wall 1, D Rose 5 and D Lillard 1 – have been selected to depict important stages of Kareem’s long and legendary basketball career from high school to his retirement after the 1988-1989 season. All the shoes will have a sepia colorway and will be embellished with symbols and accents from the era represented.
Born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. on April 19, 1947 in New York, he spent his high school days at Power Memorial High School where he led the Jack Donohue-mentored varsity to a 78-1 win-loss record and a national championship. The Crazy 8 will have a canvas upper just like in the shoes of the 1960’s with purple and gold accents from Power’s school colors and the mantra “Fundamentals are the Foundation of Excellence”.
Alcindor chose to matriculate at the University of California at Los Angeles and played from 1967 to 1969, with the Bruins going 88-2 and the NCAA National Championship plus Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament in all three seasons. The J Wall 1 has UCLA’s blue and gold colors in the sock liner and the words “rules are what make the game challenging” in reference to the NCAA’s attempt to curtail Alcindor’s dominance by banning dunking, a rule that has since been repealed.
A coin toss gave the Milwaukee Bucks the top pick in the 1969 NBA Draft and they wasted no time in selecting Alcindor and the move quickly paid dividends as the Bucks improved from 27-55 the previous year to 56-26 before losing to the New York Knicks in the Eastern Division Finals, 4-1.
In his sophomore season, Alcindor earned the first of six Most Valuable Player awards and gave the Bucks their only NBA World Championship by sweeping the Washington Bullets, 4-0, after which he announced his conversion Islam and adoption of his new name. The D Rose 5 pays homage to Abdul-Jabbar’s six seasons in Milwaukee from 1969 to 1975 with a red and green sock liner and the words “The Hook Shot is worth a Thousand Words”, his nearly-unstoppable offensive weapon that was used in producing majority of his 38,367 regular season and 5,762 playoff points.
By then, Kareem had expressed desire to go home and play for the New York Knicks. Instead, the Bucks shipped their franchise player to the Los Angeles Lakers on June 16, 1975 for Elmore Smith, Dave Meyers, Brian Winters and Junior Bridgeman.
It was with the Lakers that he won five more championships with Magic Johnson, James Worthy and the rest of the Showtime Era Lakers. The D Lillard 1 showcases the Lakers’ signature purple and gold with images of palm trees.
Moving to a big market like Los Angeles did wonders in increasing Kareem’s popularity as he crossed over to do a few movies. He has also shown a wide variety of interests from politics to history to jazz music.
A portion of the sales from these special shoes will go to the Sky Hook Foundation to fund its projects to improve the lives of underprivileged youth. “I was very fortunate to have African-American role models and pioneers I could identify with and learn from as I forged my career in basketball and my personal journey in life,” said Abdul-Jabbar.
The adidas Black History Month collection will be available in very limited quantities in the Philippines starting May 15, 2015 (Friday) at 6:00 PM in the NBA Store in Glorietta and adidas-Trinoma. Suggested retail prices are PHP 5,995.00 for the D Lillard 1, PHP 6,495.00 for the Crazy 8 and J Wall 1 and PHP 8,495.00 for the D Rose 5.