Michael Olowokandi Had No Use for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Advice

In an editorial piece for ESPN, Kareem takes the immortal Kandi Man to task for refusing to listen to him (and others) back in the day, and blames that sort of attitude for Olowokandi’s disappoiting career: “Many teams are spending too much money on marginal talent. Most of the owners would tell you they have no problem paying the star-caliber players at the present rates, but they object to the salaries of players on the roster who don’t contribute enough. So we can probably expect to see the owners push for some form of a hard salary cap that will make it possible for the various franchises to lose some of the deadwood collecting big money as they ride the bench. This problem, too, is not really the players’ fault. The league has taken in a huge influx of unproven talent by drafting and signing very young players. In the old days, college was a great place for players to mature and learn the game. Now, with an entry age of 19, we see too many pampered, immature and uncoachable players coming into the NBA. I believe this has hurt both the pro game and the college game. The colleges are losing their best players to the pros, and the NBA has to keep these players on the bench while they (hopefully) develop the basketball IQ and maturity to play at the NBA level. However, that development doesn’t always happen; there are way too many washouts. I have seen this process firsthand. When I coached for the Clippers, I had to deal with Michael Olowokandi, a player who perfectly fit the description ‘talented but uncoachable.’ At practice, I would attempt to point out Mr. Olowokandi’s faults to him, ones he constantly repeated and resulted in lost possessions for the team or personal fouls that sent him to the bench. His reaction to my attempts to correct his bad habits was to take my input as a personal insult and embarrassment. He told me point-blank that he would not be criticized in front of the team. He stuck to his word and, as a result, had very few successful moments on the court playing the way he wanted to play. He took his place on the list of athletically gifted washouts who have been in and out of the league in the past 10 years.”