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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is interested in UCLA coaching job

Former Bruins and NBA great, 65, says he wants to be considered to replace the fired Ben Howland. He has coaching experience, but not in Division I.

March 27, 2013|By Bill Dwyre

UCLA has said it is looking for a basketball coach to enhance its winning culture. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says he's the man.

Abdul-Jabbar, certainly in the conversation about the greatest basketball players of all time, said Wednesday that he wants to be considered for the Bruins job, replacing recently fired Ben Howland.

The winning part of his resume is beyond question.

As a 7-foot-2 center for the John Wooden Bruins in 1967-69, Abdul-Jabbar was the star on a team that was 88-2 and won three NCAA titles. When he continued his career in the NBA, at Milwaukee and later with the Lakers, he was on teams that won six NBA titles and was the league most valuable player six times. He is the NBA's all-time scoring leader.

"Like all Bruin supporters," Abdul-Jabbar said, "the recent trend at our school hasn't made me happy. The players don't seem to be learning how to play, and haven't been graduating.

"We can do better."

Abdul-Jabbar, who will turn 66 on April 16, said that he has "reached out" to UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, "and hopefully, I can get a chance to make my case."

He has had no Division I coaching experience but has coached in various capacities from high school through the NBA. He coached the Oklahoma Storm of the U.S. Basketball League to the title in 2002.

"That didn't get on many people's radar," he said, "but it gave me a great idea of what to do in most situations."

Abdul-Jabbar has been taking on a higher public profile recently. That will include playing host, with PrimeSport, to a hospitality party open to all fans the Monday night of the Final Four (April 8) in Atlanta.

In 2008, he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a form of cancer that he said he is controlling with medication.

UCLA has said, in response to inquiries on its coaching search, "We will not comment on the process, the candidates or provide status updates."

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