Newsmakers

‘Splash’ Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Career After Basketball: ‘For Me, It Was Necessary’

Newsmakers

Basketball legend and ABC "Splash" star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not one to blend into the background. The 7 foot 1 and a half foot star continues to make headlines through each incarnation of his professional and personal career, years after he dominated the basketball court as a UCLA Bruin, Milwaukee Buck and Los Angeles Laker.

But his impressive resume includes successes beyond basketball. How many other professional athletes can also claim to be published authors, filmmakers, movie stars, cultural ambassadors and public speakers?

"It's great to have success in more than one area, for me it was necessary," Abdul-Jabbar said in a "Newsmakers" interview for ABC News/Yahoo! News. "When my basketball career was over, what was I going to do with my life?"

In his latest career move, Abdul-Jabbar is trying his hand at diving, challenging himself at a sport in which his height is considered a disadvantage.

"It's like at this age, I want to see what I can do," he said. "So I'm giving everyone the idea that they can be healthy and have a really great athletic lifestyle, no matter what age you are."

Despite his early missteps on the diving board, Abdul-Jabbar's athletic prowess make his someone you can't count out of the competition.

The six-time championship winner and six-time MVP award recipient still holds the record as the NBA's top career scorer with 38,387 points during his 20 years in the league, an accomplishment he said he can't forget, since it helped to define part of his success.

The sports legend's legacy goes unmatched in college ball as well. Sports Illustrated recently named Abdul-Jabbar the greatest player of all time in college basketball, which he calls "a great honor."

"So many of my heroes have done incredible things in the college game. I'm thinking about Bill Russell, great players like Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird -- people I played with and against, " he said. "It's nice to be picked ahead of those guys."

Abdul-Jabbar said he still keeps up with the college game -- and has Louisville winning it all in his March Madness bracket.

"I think college basketball is a really wonderful sport," he said. "So many people want to go out there and make those dollars. But the game is such a great game that promotes the game in such a positive way that I'm all for it."

A true renaissance man, Abdul-Jabbar values his achievements both on and off the court, as different as they might be.

"I think my biggest achievement on the court was probably winning the MVP in 1985 in the finals when the Lakers beat the [Boston] Celtics," Abdul-Jabbar said. "Off the court, just getting my kids raised and to college and being more than an athlete -- I'm very proud of them."

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