Lew Alcindor nearly went to Michigan (link)

Submitted by jmblue on December 9th, 2017 at 7:14 PM

I vaguely knew that we recruited Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), but didn't know he considered transferring here.  Even after graduating he wrote in Sports Illustrated as an NBA rookie that "UCLA was a mistake" because he didn't like campus life.

Really interesting article. 



Chalky White

December 10th, 2017 at 1:31 PM ^

They talked about this on WTKA about a month ago. I had never heard that story before then.

Edit: They spent most of the time discussing the transfer. If they spoke about the initial recruitment, I missed it.

and LOL at having a deal worked out with Michigan State's boosters (not Heathcoat) to transfer to MSU.


December 9th, 2017 at 7:28 PM ^

You mean Roger Murdock?  Would have been great if the program had him as the pilot for the teams flight last year during the tournament.


December 9th, 2017 at 7:45 PM ^

And then there's Magic Johnson, who grew up a Michigan fan but finally ended up choosing MSU.

When you think that we've been to the national title game six times (going 1-5) and nearly landed two all-time greats, we really weren't far from reaching blueblood status as a program.



December 9th, 2017 at 8:23 PM ^

also Kevin Garnett.

Mateen Cleaves might have considered us, but the moment he was in that rollover on our recruiting trip, he knew the NCAA would investigate and it made his decision a no brainer.

Jason Richardson claimed he was a UofM lean, went to bed one night and had a dream about MSU and flipped the next day.

we've certainly had chances for premier players and/or to significantly alter how things turned out in state.


December 9th, 2017 at 11:10 PM ^

that any hypothetical exists. There are people who love to ponder "what ifs", especially if it pertains to the a team that they root for. I, personally, don't dwell on woulda shouldas but I can still wonder occasionally what life would have been like if Shawn Crable didn't hit Troy Smith out of bounds and Michigan would have gotten the ball back. It's just good banter.


December 9th, 2017 at 11:43 PM ^

I remember reading in autobiography Giant Steps and him saying that he was very impressed by Ann Arbor on his recruiting trip.  Alas, t'was not to be.

While I don't think most people would anoint Abdul-Jabbar as the Greatest Of All Time, at the very least he's in the conversation for GOAT and there's a non-insane case to be made on his behalf.  Kareem in maize and blue might've changed things for M hoops, to put it mildly.  Sadly can't fault him for choosing UCLA, especially given what our facilites probably looked like back then.  (Yes, John Wooden deployed boosters and bagmen as much as anyone else, but he's still the GOAT college hoops coach)


December 10th, 2017 at 2:59 AM ^

His name is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and he changed his name for a reason that was important to him. Let's respect that by calling him by his name. Less people know of "Lew Alcindor" than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar anyways.


December 10th, 2017 at 9:29 AM ^

No disrespect is intended.  It's just that the tendency in the media is to call him by the name he used at the time.  He publicly changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1971 and references to his life after that point call him that.

This is the general practice for people who changed their names.  Note Muhammad Ali's Wikipedia page, for example.