After playing in Milwaukee to start his NBA career Kareem Abdul-Jabbar requested a trade to either New York or Los Angeles. Kareem got his wish and was acquired by the Lakers in 1974. Upon returning to California Kareem wanted to get back into martial arts. Bruce Lee was living in LA at the time and the two of them started to train together Talk about an underwhelming sentence, Bruce Lee and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar hanging out together!
“Bruce, more or less, backed up what I had learned from John Wooden. The whole thing about being prepared and understanding your own skills. What you have to offer and what you don’t have to offer. Channeling to your approach to everything specific. It was just an echo of John Wooden, from Hong Kong as opposed to Indiana. You have to be committed. You have to be prepared. You have to be willing to sacrifice to be totally prepared. To be in shape and understand the nature of competition. And he wanted to do that.”
It would be difficult to find two more popular athletes in the 1970’s than Bruce Lee and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Put them in a movie where they’re fighting in Jeet Kune Do, a martial arts system founded by Bruce Lee himself, and the cool factor is raised to near life threatening levels. The two were pitted against each other in a scene for Game of Death. Tragically, Bruce Lee died before the film was completed, it’s easy to notice stand-ins and repeated shots throughout the movie. In Game of Death Bruce Lee meets an athletic and shaded Kareem. Lee is only able to defeat him when he realizes his weakness — a high sensitivity to light. On and off the court Kareem always did know the importance of proper eye protection.