Good news, lovers of basketball, movies and movies about basketball got a bit of neat news on Wednesday — production has just begun on a new documentary, slated for an early 2015 premiere, that will trace the life and times of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The as-yet-untitled flick about the former Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers star — who still ranks as the top scorer in NBA history nearly a quarter-century after his retirement, and who has followed up his Hall of Fame career by becoming a best-selling author and a "global cultural ambassador," among other things — will be produced by HBO Sports (who gave us "Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals"), Mandalay Sports Media (who gave us "Summer Dreams") and Iconomy Multimedia & Entertainment (who distributed "On the Shoulders of Giants," a 2011 documentary about the New York Rens helmed by Abdul-Jabbar). The project aims to focus not only on the remarkable on-court success Kareem achieved as a high-school player at Power Memorial in New York, a collegiate star at UCLA and as a six-time MVP and champion in the NBA, but also on the "unique and remarkable perspective [he provides] through which to interpret the past half-century of the country’s narrative," with an eye toward revealing "the complexity and genius of Kareem both on and off the court," according to a statement announcing the start of production.
“Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a legendary figure and an American sports icon,” said HBO Sports president Ken Hershman in the statement. “While he has lived so much of his life in the media spotlight, his extraordinary story has never been explored in depth, and we are grateful to Kareem and his team for allowing us to bring this story to life.”
"By his own admission, Abdul-Jabbar has had a complicated and occasionally hostile relationship with the media," said Mandalay Sports Media co-chairman Mike Tollin. "This is a unique opportunity to tell all sides of his story.”
("All sides of his story" better include at least a token reference to his appearance on "Splash." That's all I'm saying.)
Kareem's told his own story twice before — in the 1983 autobiography "Giant Steps" and in 1990's "Kareem" — but we haven't seen a focused, full-career, life-spanning treatment on the small screen, so this ought to be neat. I do hope HBO precedes the flick with a disclaimer noting that Abdul-Jabbar authored one of the foremost critiques of their comedy series "Girls," though; I'd hate to see the project fail to pass muster in terms of journalistic integrity.
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