Video: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Talks Training with Bruce Lee to Help NBA Career

Los Angeles Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33) hooks shot over Portland Trail Blazers Jim Brewer (52) during first period of game in Los Angeles, March 13, 1980. Jabbar scored 30 points in the game, giving him over 24,000 career points and pacing the Lakers to a 102-94 win.  (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)

Lennox McLendon/Associated Press

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said training with actor Bruce Lee played a key role in the durability and longevity that allowed him to become the NBA‘s all-time leading scorer.

Abdul-Jabbar appeared on Friday’s SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt to discuss Lee’s impact.

“Bruce always emphasized the effectiveness of stretching,” he said. “So before we worked out we stretched all the time. And that was it. I took that to another level by studying yoga and being able to advance as a yoga student, and that really was the best preventative maintenance that I could have been doing in the offseason.”

Abdul-Jabbar, 73, played 20 NBA seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers from 1969 through 1989 to amass 38,387 points. He told SVP taking just two weeks off a year, long before year-round training became the norm for professional athletes, was crucial to stay healthy.

Here’s a look at the complete conversation:

The discussion was to help promote the airing of the Lee documentary Be Water as part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET.

Brian Lowry of CNN reviewed the documentary ahead of its national TV premiere:

“Directed by Bao Nguyen, ‘Be Water’ (a maxim Lee used to describe his martial-arts philosophy) employs an interesting tactic, interviewing subjects in voiceover, then showing them at the end. It brings a personal touch to the story—with Lee’s wife, daughter and brother among those featured—while keeping the man himself front and center. …

“‘Be Water’ is, in its own way, as precisely choreographed as Lee’s fight sequences, shining a well-deserved light on his brief life but long shadow, as the statues of him around the world attest.”

Lee, a Chinese American born in San Francisco, died at the age of 32 in 1973 amid skyrocketing popularity, but his legacy remains strong after being named one of Time‘s 100 most influential of the 20th century.

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