Abdul-Jabbar, 62, one of the game's greatest-ever players, told CNN Monday: "I have chronic myeloid leukemia."
Abdul-Jabbar said the condition was diagnosed last December, adding that it hasn't significantly affected his life. The former 7-foot-2 star for the UCLA Bruins, the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks said he is publicizing his condition now to bring awareness to the disease.
"I think it's possible for someone in my position to help save lives," Abdul-Jabbar told the U.S. broadcaster. "My grandfather died from colorectal cancer, my uncle died from colorectal cancer and my father almost died from colorectal cancer."
CNN said his awareness that he has the gene for colorectal cancer has led Abdul-Jabbar to get involved with a colorectal cancer awareness campaign in the black community as well as to participating in an NBA sponsored prostate cancer awareness campaign.