Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s advice to a would-be pro

MirandaJuly Miranda July has a publishing project underway that exists only in your email inbox. She asked 10 famous and somewhat famous friends and acquaintances (writers, actors, scientists, artists, athletes)  to look through their email archives and send her real emails in which they discuss particular topics like money or giving advice. She groups these by topic, and she’ll be sending out a set every Monday from July 1 through November 11, 2013. You can sign up to receive them.

“How they comport themselves in email is so intimate, almost obscene — a glimpse of them from their own point of view,” July writes.

Here is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s advice to a student who wrote asking how to become a pro basketball player:

Hi Max,

Thank you for your recent email. I’m glad you enjoyed my visit to your school and that I was able to autograph your book. I’m just happy kids your age know who I am let alone ask me for advice. You wanted to know the best way to become a professional basketball player.

The first part of my advice you’re probably not going to like very much. Ready? Here it comes: Go to college, study really hard, and get good grades. I know the life of a pro looks pretty glamorous with fancy cars and lots of money, but the truth is that money doesn’t make life interesting and neither does just playing basketball. What makes life really fun is interacting with all kinds of people and if all you can do is talk about the shot you made or the ball you stole, you won’t be very interesting to people.

kareemabduljabbarAlso, life is long but basketball careers can be short. Injuries, age, or just better players make the average length of the pro career about six years. Mine was twenty years, but that’s unusual. Even with my long career, I’ve been retired from the game longer than I played it, which is why I’m so grateful I studied so hard at UCLA. My studies in history and English have made it possible for me to become a writer rather than just a guy who used to play basketball.

Now, if that scared you off, then you never really wanted to be a pro, because a pro can’t be scared off. He or she can’t picture anything else but themselves playing on that court night after night. There is no one path to becoming a pro, but there are some general guidelines that might help:

1.     Practice every spare moment you can.
2.     Never neglect your studies for basketball.
3.     Don’t rely only on the moves you’re already good at. Keep developing new skills. Each skill you have that someone else doesn’t makes you that much more valuable on a team.
4.     Go to college and play your heart out, but don’t go to college just to play. Treat it as an extra-curricular activity—one that you love, but that’s not as important as your studies.

Hope that helps, Max. Good luck to you.


Lena Dunham consoles a lovelorn friend:

lena-dunhamListen to me. I am a woman who loves and adores and, I believe, understands you. You did nothing wrong. He is NOT NICE. He says not nice things in a nice voice so they seem nice but they are not. He isn’t kind or careful with you, he wants to suck the kindness out of you, and if he’s like this after 10 years of group therapy then G-d help us all. He’s not for you bc he’s not for anyone. Do you hear me? Good. I understand SO much the appeal, but he’s not worth your energy and someone like art guy may not be perfect or right but he’s starting on a good foot by offering some of himself to you and wanting to give you pleasureful times

Ok my lecture is done


H/T: Ashley McKenzie