Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: NBA entry age should be 21

Speaking at the B’nai B’rith sports banquet in Omaha, Nebraska – the former NBA superstar (formerly called Lou Alcindor) said that the NBA should raise its minimum age for entry into the league to 21.

“They get precocious kids from high school who think they’re rock stars— ‘Where’s my $30 million?’ ” said Abdul-Jabbar. “The attitudes have changed, and the game has suffered because of that, and it has certainly hurt the college game.” There’s a disturbing sense of entitlement among many of today’s young pros according to the NBA’s career scoring leader and center on the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1980s “Showtime” teams.

The 63-year-old Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson led the Lakers to five NBA titles in the 1980s. Before Abdul-Jabbar retired in 1989, he set the NBA record for career points (38,387), MVP selections (six) and All-Star selections (19).

The NBA in 2005 changed its entry age to 19. Players who previously might have jumped from high school to the NBA now end up playing one year of college ball before declaring for the draft.

“When I played, the players had to go to college and earn their way onto the court, meaning that there were upperclassmen ahead of them,” he said. “Players who had to go through that and had to go to class, when they got to be professional athletes, they were a lot better qualified.”

Abdul-Jabbar is now a special assistant to the Lakers and a best-selling author.  He also had a part in the comedy spoof, “Airplane” in which he played the role of the co-pilot.

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