Former NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been very busy since ending his Hall-of-Fame Basketball career in 1989. He has appeared in several films, started a charity and had a job as cultural ambassador for the United States. Now 66, the NBA's all-time leading scorer is also a best-selling author according to a Sept. 29, UPI article.
Abdul-Jabbar's latest project is "Sasquatch in the Paint," a children's book about a nerdy eighth-grader who grows so tall that a basketball coach is determined to turn him into a player.
Abdul-Jabbar has written plenty of books before but the retired basketball star told the New York Times on Sept. 27, that his most recent project is more about adolescence.
Abdul-Jabbar’s other books are Giant Steps; Kareem; Selected from Giant Steps; A Season on the Reservation: My Sojourn with the White Mountain Apaches;Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes; and What Color Is My World? The Lost History of African American Inventors.
"This [book] is a lot different," Abdul-Jabbar said.
It’s about life lessons. It’s kids growing up. It’s based on a lot of the experiences I had growing up, trying to make that transition from being a child to being an adult. Going through adolescence. The main character in the book, Theo, is in the eighth grade. He’s just had a growth spurt, he’s not very good at playing basketball, but because he’s tall, everybody expects him to be a dominant player.
Abdul-Jabbar said he wrote the book to reach out to children -- especially children of color -- that being "smart is cool."
I just thought there is so much in popular culture that tells kids, especially minority kids, that if they’re going to be successful, it’s going to have to be in the field of sports or entertainment. And that if it’s not that, they’re not going to make it. A young kid growing up in the Bronx, he wants to be Jay-Z or LeBron James or he wants to be Denzel Washington. They don’t see themselves being successful doing other things. Theo, the main character, is on the academic team. He’s smart. Books just don’t sit in the corner in his room. That was one message I want to get across. Being smart is cool.
Abdul-Jabbar has already received praise from several critics including Barry Saunders of the newsobserver.com.
‘Sasquatch in the Paint’ is terrific” said Saunders on Sept. 27, “ It’s ostensibly a children’s book about middle-school-age children in a culturally diverse world trying to find their identity, but it’s hard to imagine any literate adult who used to be a kid not loving it, too. Basketball, Abdul-Jabbar said, is just the backdrop.”
Abdul-Jabbar is continuing his book signing appearances as he was at Politics and Prose Book Store in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 30 and is at RIF at Joint Base Andrews Youth Programs in Joint Base Andrews, MD, on Oct. 1. He will also be in New York;Ridgewood,N.J.; La Verne, Calif., and Los Angeles , Calif., between Oct. 2-12.