Kareem Abdul-Jabbar mulls comeback to boost AIDS effort

LOS ANGELES -- All-time NBA scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a close friend of Magic Johnson, said Saturday he is contemplating a comeback to call attention to the AIDS crisis.

Abdul-Jabbar, 44, in an interview on CBS' 'The NFL Today,' said a large portion of the money he made from returning to the basketball court would be donated to AIDS research.


Abdul Jabbar, a teammate of Johnson with the Los Angeles Lakers, said the moment he learned of Johnson's retirement because he had contracted the virus that causes AIDS he wanted to do something.

'It crossed my mind when I heard the news about Magic. I wanted to do something positive that could help my friend. Basketball is what I do best.

'I want to make a statement about the need to do something about the (AIDS) problem. As a nation we have been very lax.'

CBS reported that Johnson was 'touched by the gesture.'

Lakers General Manager Jerry West called the idea of an Abdul-Jabbar comeback 'intriguing,' but said current salary restrictions mean the Lakers could pay Abdul-Jabbar a maximum of $130,000 a year.

Abdul-Jabbar, who recently signed a deal to play NBA legend Julius Erving in a game of one-on-one said he's serious but cautious about the comeback.


'I'm trying to take this slowly and see what I have to offer,' said Abdul-Jabbar. 'I might not have the talent or fire, though, necessary to play in the NBA,' he said.

His former coach with the Lakers, Pat Riley, now with the New York Knicks, feels Abdul-Jabbar could still compete.

'I think he can still play,' said Riley. 'I still think he can probably contribute somewhere.'

That somewhere could be New York, Abdul-Jabbar's hometown.

'Would we be interested, I don't know,' Riley said of the idea of Abdul-Jabbar donning a Knicks uniform. 'We would have to think about it.'

Abdul-Jabbar's name dominates the NBA record book. In his 20 seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers, he played in more games (1,560) and scored more points (38,387) than any other player.

Abdul-Jabbar finished his career as a teammate of Johnson, who startled the nation Nov. 7 with the announcement that he was retiring from the Lakers because he has contracted the AIDS virus.

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