In his prime, Kareem Abdul Jabbar's signature go-to scoring move in the post was his sky hook. It was the move that enabled him to become the all-time leading scorer in league history. He'd release the ball at such a high point, it couldn't be contested. Earlier in the week, Howard confessed that he did not work with Abdul-Jabbar because he wasn't quite a 7-footer. This is true. After all, Howard is listed at 6-11 in NBA media guides. However, Thursday on First Take, Abdul-Jabbar applied a similar restriction to Dwight Howard's IQ and claimed that Howard doesn't possess the mental acuity to hang with the greats.
"Dwight is an extraordinary athlete and has incredible athletic ability, but basketball is a game where the most important muscle that you use on the court is the one between your ears," Abdul-Jabbar said on ESPN's "First Take" Thursday. "Dwight's basketball IQ is not up to speed for him to be a dominant player."
Ouch, if there was an example of calling someone a lughead without using the word, Abdul-Jabbar just did. He didn't quite imply that his new children's book, Sasquatch In The Paint, was too advanced, but he might as well.
Howard felt that Kareem was implying he had the same level of intelligence (and post moves) as the statue the Lakers erected for him outside Staples and defending himself.
"You can't win three Defensive Player of the Year trophies and be stupid. That can't be done," he said, according to the Houston Chronicle. "And I don't think any coach that has ever coached me has said I have a low IQ for basketball.
"Have I done some dumb stuff on the floor? Yes, every player has. Have I done some stupid things in life? Yes, it's life. We make mistakes and learn from them. It is what it is. I think I am very intelligent when it comes to the game of basketball. I have been playing since I was 3 years old. Each year, I get a little smarter.
"People will have something to say. Is what it is. I'm in (Houston) now. This city has my back and we are going to ride together."
In Howrd's defense, Abdul-Jabbar had one of the sharpest minds in the league when he played and his intelligence wasn't just limited to hoops. Abdul-Jabbar was a bookworm who also became an author and social activist. Like all great players, he can't understand why every player isn't as much of a resourceful whiz as he was on the hardwood. It's especially difficult to watch a player like Howard fail to reach his ceiling. Howard seems like a fairly bright person behind his jocular, court jester temperament.
Unfortunately, the book on Howard has always been that he's a physical specimen, with next-level athleticism, however, his fundamentals are flawed on the offensive end. Hopefully things work out better for Howard's Mr. Miyagi relationship with Olajuwon than they did in Los Angeles with Kareem.