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February 19, 2008

On the rebound: Answering blogmail

Count basie orchestra A couple of days ago, I received the following comment from "Vman" in response to my blog about Dr. West , the co-inventor of the electret microphone used in almost 90% of all microphones built today:

A question from my 10-year-old...
So, Dr. West, 'inventor of the microphone,' invented it in 1962?
How were we able to hear Count Basie?"

First, let me say how impressed I am that a 10-year-old was so intelligent to ask that question.  Of course, it’s true that microphones existed long before Dr. West.  In fact, in 1827, English physicist and telegraph inventor Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875) first coined the word “microphone.”  In 1876, German immigrant Emile Berliner (1851-1929), working in Washington , D.C. , invented a microphone used in telephones to transmit speech.  (He was also the first to invent the gramophone that recorded on disks, later called records.  His company’s symbol was a dog listening to the gramophone.)  Then in 1878, David Edward Hughes (1831-1900) invented the carbon microphone that is the model for the modern microphone. Which brings us to African-American Dr. James E. West and his co-inventor Gerhard Sessler, who received a patent for the electroacoustic transducer, and electret microphone.  The electret microphone is more reliable, acoustically accurate, smaller, and cheaper than conventional microphones.  So, while Dr. West didn’t invent the microphone, he invented a type of microphone that was small and so reliable that it could be used in everything from hearing aids to cell phones.  It’s also used on the space shuttles.

Here are some more answers to your questions:

How has martial arts influenced your workout? Do you continue to study? If so, how has your regimen changed?
-- Jon K

Jon K -- Martial arts has affected my training regimen by making me conscious of how I need to anticipate the various circumstances I will encounter in contests. Training for basketball means that the fundamental basketball skills -- shooting, passing and defense -- must be worked on with an emphasis on endurance. A basketball game is 48 minutes long, so the aspect of performing the fundamental skills while being tired must be addressed. So cardiovascular endurance is an absolute necessity in your training regimen. These days I don't work so much on my basketball skills, since I'm retired, but the fundamentals of strength, flexibility and cardio are always part of what I do. I try to include other activities that are fun but keep the fundamental skills sharp. So I'll jump rope, swim, run some cross country, play squash or ride my bike.

Do you have any thoughts on why yoga studios are so full of women and so few men practice?
-- Jaime

Answer after the jump...

Jamie -- I think the reason that women seem to be the most numerous in yoga studios these days is because they have a natural tendency to be flexible. Male hormones lend themselves to making big, strong, and much less-flexible muscle. Hence, all the guys in the weight room. The lack of testosterone makes for a more supple musculature, so you will see women make much faster progress in yoga studios. The best thing for men would be flexibility training. The natural tendency for building strong muscles means that they should do something beyond what comes so easily -- i.e., their strengths. Conversely, women should work on strength, since it;s more difficult for them to acquire strength as opposed to flexibility.

I know former heavyweight champ Ken Norton, and I talked him into taking a yoga class some years back. Ken arrived early and was watching the class that was in session immediately before the one we were going to take together. While watching what was being taught to that class, he became totally intimidated by the demands of flexibility. Ken was seriously muscular but he could plainly see that the postures he would be required to try in the class were beyond the range of his muscle bound frame. After about 10  minutes of observation, Ken quickly changed into his street clothes and left the studio. I don't think he ever tried yoga training after that. The point I'm making is that men need flexibility training to balance their muscular tendencies, and women need strength training to balance their tendency to lose muscle. Being proud to the point of vanity helps no one. All aspiring athletes should cover the basics, which are strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance. A well-rounded athlete is one who comes the closest to his or her potential.

How can any NBA team stop a Bynum-Gasol in the paint? Are they going to be unstoppable, in your opinion? Having the two is almost like having Jabbar and Duncan in the same team, agree?
-- Staples 24

I've received many questions about how Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will work together on the Lakers after Bynum returns to the active roster. I think that the line-up will be formidable and a very difficult defensive problem for the Lakers' opponents. Pau has great perimeter skills; a good midrange jumper and  post-up moves, and most importantly he is a fine passer. Andrew has found his comfort zone in the Lakers' offensive scheme and is playing with more and more confidence. If they continue to learn how to play in this offense, it will be a thorny problem for any team trying to shut down either of them. In addition, the attention they get will make it more difficult to guard Kobe, Lamar and those other Laker perimeter players. So I'm looking for good things to happen for the Lakers and more problems for their opponents.

Kareem, do you remember "Stompin' ON the Savoy" by the King Kong Trio, vocal by Godzilla? ... It was literally a smash in the early '60's.
-- Bob Arbogast

I'm not familiar with the King Kong version of "Stompin' at the Savoy."


photo of the Count Basie Orchestra by Lefty Shivambu, Gallo Images


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Thomas Boyd

Listened and loved every word of Kareem's recent interview on KLAC. However, I think he misspoke when he was recounting all of the turmoil of 1968. Parenthetically, he mentioned the incident at Kent State as being one of the events of 1968. Memory fails us at times. The Kent State shootings took place in May 1970. I vividly recall this because I was graduating from high school and beginning to realize that even the university setting, which was where I was headed, could be dangerous too. Scared the hell out of me, even though I grew up in Wisconsin.

Bob Barabe

I am impressed with your training program. I have to ask you what kind of bike and frame size do you have?

Mine is a 51 centimeter, which tells you how tall I am. This coming month will be my 60th b.day. Still can keep up with most cyclists in the road racing that I am into each summer.


Hello Kareem,
Long time Laker fan, but mostly a jazz fan.
My question: Why is Sonny Rollins not mentioned on the Stones' Tatoo Album? He does the solo on 'Waiting For a Friend' which was a big hit on that album?

Jesse Rhodes

Hi Kareem,
Just a note of encouragement and thanks. I've watched you since I was a kid, and you've always been a favorite, from that amazing graceful skyhook (that I still can't believe no one is using today), to your movie with Bruce Lee, the cameo in Airplane, to your raising awareness and pride of African American history, right on down to where you've helped Bynum evolve from a knucklehead kid to one of the top young centers in the league today. I feel an NBA head coaching job is on the way..
Thanks man, much respect and love.


Hello Kareem,

I just found out about this blog and I think it is great. You have always been one of my favorite athletes, not just for your greatness on the court, but for your acceptance of being something greater. A role model, which some celebrities today shy away from. I feel it is important for young people to learn their history or they are doomed to repeat it. I will check this blog every day, because I also am not too old to learn something, thank you for the info on Dr. James West.


Thanks so much for the response and the great Ken Norton story. I could really see Mr. Norton and his Greek God like body slipping out of the studio in my minds eye!
You have a terrific blog, keep it going!


Joe Alexis

3 questions sir:

1. I know that you're a huge baseball fan. If you were managing a world series game 7, whom would you hand the ball to? Gibson? Koufax? Pedro? Seaver? or someone else?

2. You've been very famous since you were 12 years old. What are you thoughts as you watch today's young and famous deal with their struggles?

3. Who's you favorite all time tenor sax player?

Jeff Gehringer

I know you are a tremdous jazz fan. A few years ago, you announced your own label to release jazz recordings. Did you enjoy being a jazz executive and what was that a positive experience for you?

Keep on keeping on,


Hi Kareem,
1. I wondered if you still get migraine headaches and if not, what did you find was an effective remedy?
2. Your blog is very intelliigently written and very interesting, but one thing I think it does not really convey is your very sharp sense of humor, an attribute I believe the public isn't generally aware of. Example: when you retired from playing in the NBA, I had the lucky occasion to run into you in a public place and I asked you "so what are you going to do now?" Your response: "Well, I thought I might get into undercover work." That's one of the funniest things I've ever heard. Do you remember that?

Drew Leifheit

Hi Kareem,

My query is kind of a silly one. I'm wondering what it was like for you to stop playing basketball as a pro and how you're able to satisfy that part of yourself now.

I'm sure working with people like Andrew Bynum helps, but is it enough?

Do you ever get into pick up games with old friends?

Finally, wow come there are never any NBA "oldtimer" games? I'm sure you would clean up. You, sir, appear to be ageless.



nelson boyd

Can you clarify a point, when you were at UCLA, when the team reported in the fall for the up coming season, did Coach Wooden put you guys through a jump rope session to see the type of condition that you were comlng into the season with? I thought I remember reading once it was 300 jump rotations in 2:00 or 200 jump rotations in 3:00. Was that just a myth?

Thank you so much for your time.


Hello Sir,

My name is Stefano Hanks and I am 14 yrs old, I love basketball and i play it a lot. I have a special place in my heart for bb players of your calibre. It's great that now you have your own blog.
I do have a question - my dad was working in Saudi Arabia and he has some pictures of you and some NBA stars visiting there, he even has a picture with you taken at the Hyatt Regency where he worked, he also has another pix with another past player which i am finding it difficult to name, i would appreciate your help to put a name to this picture too cos I am about to frame these pictures and putting them up in our family room.
So how do I send this pix to you, pls help me Great One.

Keep safe and keep up the good work, you are and inspiration to us all.

Blessings - stefano

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Captain Kareem

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is considered by many fans and sportswriters to be the greatest basketball player of all time. The 7-foot-2 Hall of Fame center, famous for his indefensible skyhook, dominated the NBA for 20 years, first with the Milwaukee Bucks then with the Los Angeles Lakers. Before that he was the star of the UCLA Bruins teams that won three consecutive NCAA championships. Kareem was the NBA's MVP six times, a 19-time all-star and set the NBA all-time records in nine categories. He is the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, a record that may never be broken.

Since retiring as a player in 1989, Kareem has balanced his love of basketball with his love of history. In 2002 he led a USBL team, the Oklahoma Storm, to a championship. Since 2005, he has been the special assistant coach for the Lakers, working with Andrew Bynum.

In 2008 he was chosen The Greatest Player in College Basketball History.

Kareem also remains intellectually active, authoring six bestselling history books intended to popularize the contributions of African-Americans to American culture and history. His books include "Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement"; "Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes"; "A Season on the Reservation," which chronicles his time teaching basketball and history on an Apache Indian reservation in White River, Ariz.; and the current New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance."

His audio adaptation, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Audio & Musical Journey through the Harlem Renaissance," is a four-volume compilation read by Bob Costas, Avery Brooks, Jesse L. Martin, and Stanley Crouch, and features private and fascinating conversations with dozens of icons, including Coach John Wooden, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones and Billy Crystal. He has also been written to L.A. Times, under the Sports section.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been appearing on various radio stations and TV shows, as well as the most relevant websites talking about his life and his new audio book, On the Shoulders of Giants.

All images are property of www.iconomy.com unless otherwise stated. All info copyrighted and owned by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not replicated without permission.

Come meet Kareem at the NBA Store on 5th Avenue: Friday, May 16th, from 3:15pm - 4:15pm.

Kareem_READ The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has joined the popular Celebrity READ poster series. The Celebrity READ poster campaign is one of the most effective ways to encourage people to get a good education, improve their reading skills, and to read for sheer enjoyment.
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is the 2008 Honorary Chair Library Card Sign-up Month, which takes place in September. He will also appear at the American Library’s National Convention on June 28th and 29th at the Long Beach Convention Center to sign his poster.

To purchase Mr. Abdul-Jabbar's poster and to view the entire line of Celebrity READ Posters, please click here. now!

Kareem_jersey Join the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Fan Club
and win a chance to receive a prize from my official store !

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ESPN names Kareem The Greatest Player In College Basketball History

Check the latest about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Go to KareemAbdulJabbar.com for more news.
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