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March 17, 2008

Exchanging e-mails with Obama


(Sen. Barack Obama, seated at center, with his junior varsity basketball team in the 1977 yearbook of the Punahou School in Honolulu.)

I was exchanging some e-mails with Sen. Obama and he was able to answer some questions that people have run by me when his name comes up. The one issue that people raise the most is that people question Sen. Obama's ability to lead all of America.  I asked him  the following questions.

Q. You have made an appeal to lead all of America. What were the obstacles to conveying that message?

A. One of the biggest obstacles we've faced is the cynicism many Americans have about politics. And I understand it. Year after year, politicians make promises on the campaign trail but then go back to Washington and nothing changes. Because the lobbyists write another check or partisan bickering stands in the way or politicians don’t say what they mean or mean what they say. But I'm hopeful because all across this country, I'm meeting Americans who are willing to stop settling for what the cynics tell us we must accept and reach for the kind of real change we know is possible. And that's what this campaign is all about.

The tarnished image that has become the fare of America in many parts of the world is a great concern for many people who will vote this fall. The Iraq War has changed many aspects of how we are seen in the world.

Q. What should our approach be to diplomatic relations with the world at large?

A. I'm running for president not just to end the Iraq War -- a war I opposed from the start -- but to end the mindset that got us into war. And that includes the Bush-McCain-Clinton policy of not talking with leaders we don't like. I don’t think that approach makes us look tough; I think it makes us look arrogant. I agree with President Kennedy, who once said, "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate." And that's the kind of diplomacy we will re-establish when I am President.

Sen. Obama feels that the time he spent as a community organizer in Chicago gave him an insight as to how to shape his tactics in the political world.

Q. How did community organizing affect your political outlook?

A. What I learned as a community organizer on the streets of Chicago is that together, ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things. That's a lesson I carried with me in the Illinois state Senate, when I brought Democrats and Republicans together and passed the most sweeping lobbying reform in 25 years. It's a lesson I've carried with me on this campaign by reaching out to Americans of every race, region, and political party. And it's a lesson I'll carry with me to the White House to enact a middle-class tax cut, pass universal health care, and bring about real change in this country.

Finally, I mentioned to him that I've seen several pictures of him playing basketball. He told me that basketball was a passion for him throughout his lifetime and should he get to reside in the White House there would absolutely be a hoop on the White House grounds.


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John Ruddan

That's really interesting, I hope Obama is also training "a" skyhook; we will need a lot of great shots to get out of Iraq clean.
i am Obama's voter, and the war in Iraq is really something that frustrates me as an American.

Jay Davis

Good stuff Mr. Abdul-Jabbar! Obama is very compelling for so many reasons, him being against the imperialist invasion of Iraq as well as him being a lefty hooper like me make it even better.
I look forward to fun photo ops of him reigning jumpers at the White House while doing the urgent business of attempting to reverse decades of terrorist gangsterism by various dubious ex-presidents and their enablers (see policies against Cuba since the 60s, Iran in the 50s, Vietnam, Iraq, etc etc)

Mr. Unite Us

Kareem appreciate the knowledge you shared with
us a the California African American Museum this weekend. I recommend everyone read this book.

Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes";

Obama response to your first question reminds of the Bear Stearns $30 billion dollar Federal bailout. There's billions to help the investment bankers.

Jerry W

Thanks for the interview, Kareem. Mr. Obama has everything it takes to be a fine leader. I hope he can negotiate the minefield being layed out by the Clinton machine. If he prevails, I look forward to seeing you giving him some sage advice on that White House court.


This is good stuff. I found myself wanting more


I find the the statement "people question Senator Obama's ability to lead all of America" rather odd.
Has there been any U.S. President in past decades who was able to "lead all of America"?

Bigotry, it seems plays a good game of "cat-and-mouse" in America. If its not one thing it's another......to knock down an opponent ....or someone who is "not like us."


One expects a pro basketball player to make 3-pointer after 3-pointer because that's his/her job, and one could even have high expectations of Mark Cuban because he owns the Mavericks. But it is always kind of surprising to see footage of some guy like Obama (or the evangelist Joel Osteen) popping them in like candy, shot after shot, because you know that they not only have practiced a lot, but most likely have practiced a lot recently...

But that digression aside, thanks for bringing the Barack Obama world into touch with the Kareem Abdul Jabbar world! After interviewing him, are you endorsing him in his run for President?

Brad Smith

Kareem, Please help the Obama campaign understand that they must present a better set of facts about Obama's accomplishments. Just today Shelby Steele has written an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal asserting that Obama lacks experience. Steeles article mentions Obama's present votes rather than his total number of votes at the state level. It fails to present his experience as a community organizer or his work on death penalty issues that ensured equal justice for all. Obama lost votes here in Texas when a State Senator could not present a list of his accomplishments. I encourage you to ask the Obama campaign for a comprehensive presentation of facts about Obama's experience and then publish it. Moreover, I recommend that your readers use those facts to respond to the Shelby Steele article in today's Wall Street Journal.


I wish I could vote for Obama, here from Denmark.
I think we ought to have the right to vote for the American Presidency because it is affects all of us outside the U.S too! We want to vote for change too!

-Fatos, from Denmark (Kosovo)


Indeed, as a previous commenter stated, Obama would need a sky hook, in order to deal with likely near and mid term future events. Many have tried to make fun of him, based on comments he made about what actions might be taken in Waziristan. But it is not funny at all - unlike most cowardly politicians, who fail to think outside the box, in this case, Obama demonstrated clear thinking, and, a type of courage which may be evidence of great promise. I pray that if he is elected president, he will further develop the skill and knowledge which led to such an outstanding, out of the box statement. (For the record, I wrote about a similar theme, in late September 2001, at a time when the conventional wisdom was that we must coddle Pakistan.)

Best wishes to Hon. Barak Obama.

A Garcia

We could really use another power forward option on the Lakers with Trevor Arriza and Andrew Bynum out! The Pennsylvania primary is still weeks away! A little Laker Magic for the Next President? Just a thought!...


While a great future candidate one comment made shows his lack of experience.
"Sen. Obama feels that the time he spent as a community organizer in Chicago gave him an insight as to how to shape his tactics in the political world."

How can a community organizer in Chicago be ready to tackle situations and leaders like Iraq, China, Putin, N. Korea? Its similar to saying because I ran the high school newspaper I am ready to be CEO for IBM.


Nice...keep up the good work Kareem, we need more uplifting, rather than negative political pieces in the news.

Brent Vermillion

I wonder why Abdul Jabbar a member of the nation of islam or at least a muslim did not ask Obama anything about his christianity.


As fan of your basketball career and as fan of you. Thank you for sharing your email with Sen. Obama; I hope that we as a nation see how great this man will be as our president. I was not alive when President Kennedy was sworn into office but I love to tell stories to my grandchildren on how President Obama changed our lives. Thank you again


To Brent,

Why does it matter? This is suppose to be a country that accepts ALL religions. And yet, many of these two-faced hypocrites keep trying to make this an issue.

Who care if Obama is a Muslim, Christian, Buddist or what ever. Religion teaches people a foundation of beliefs it does not create a persons ability to lead or make the right choices.

Religion and Government are suppose to be seperate. And I firmly believe it should be kept that way. I do not want another president who "Talks to God" that leads on another crusade to the middle east.


Excellent interview and insight Mr. Abdul-Jabbar.

I was listening to Obama's speech on race today and I have a question. Its one that has been on my mind for quite some time.

Why is it that when a person is of mixed-race and black is one of those "races," is a person only considered to be black? Back when Tiger Woods first appeared on the scene he was considered a black golfer. Yet now you hardly hear any mention of his ethnicity, in part I believe to his own feelings about being confined to one race when he is a person of multiracial heritage. The same holds true for Obama, yet he does not seem to be letting people know that he is also a person of mixed heritage. When he gets elected he will be forever known as the first black president. Do you think he should do more to show the world that he is biracial? Perhaps show his maternal family members more on the campaign?

Thank you for taking time to consider my question.

Jon K.

Obama's speech today was the greatest speech of this generation. A truly beautiful American moment.




Thanks for sharing that.

I find it hard to believe that there isn't a hoop at the White House. That's ridiculous.

Jeff Marks

Kareem! So excited to have found your blog! Excellent stuff.


I find Mr. Obama has an idea that can fix some problems. I feel that the U.S. has to get past the issue of Race. I feel that those of us raised following AJB as a Buck learned that race was not important, Big O too, talent is more important than color.
We have to move on.

Abogada Adelante

On the anniversary of the bombing of Bagdad, we are reminded of the failure of the war and the struggle to clear America's name throughout the world. By agreeing to meet with this nation's adversaries as well as allies, Barak Obama brings hope for our future. His speech last nite also sends a message of hope and unity. It is the reason that so many young people are standing with him throughout the the political process to elect him president. It is the reason that voters turn out in record numbers at each election or caucus.


Obama as the the rebirth from the dead and decaying life of old America: Obama's mission is driven by the ubiquitous and hurtful expressions of America of the past represented by his granmother and pastor. He has seen and experienced both side of the "divide" and understands the fears most of which are fueled by ignorance. He has decided to rise above these pervasive feelings that divide Americans and the world.

We should see him as the rebirth from the dead and decaying values and life of the past. We see this all the time: young plants blossoming on decaying plants and young dazzling damsels besides their aged mothers. Not all survive. Obama is an opportunity for America to revitalize the spirits of its people and truly lead the world. Its huge resources are being wasted!

Bryan Miller

Thanks, Kareem for stepping away from your passion to partake in a political discussion.

Go Obama. Keep being honest and not pandering. I think the voters will respond to your deeper message rather than sound bites.

Now we need the nuanced speech about how to leave Iraq and gut the military industrial complex.

Eddie Barker

I've posted a couple of times that I thought Kareem should be president. But I guess he can settle for Obama's vice president. Obama/Jabbar 2008!


I see a great inconsistency in Obama's stance with the black community. He has come out against the most disenfranchised blacks in the world—the black embryo. How can you love blacks and favor without the slightest tinge of compassion the abortion of a black fetus? Does he know that the black heart begins to beat at the 18th to 25th day from conception? Does he know that a black embryo has its own brain waves at 40 days? Does he know that that black child has its own fingerprints and has fully functioning body systems at 11 to 12 weeks? How many black babies will never get a chance to run for president because thinking like Obama's got them killed? A presidential candidate should care for all of those in his country — especially the most innocent and defenseless of all, the fetus.

The Lake Show


Because local politics is probably the most important. If you learn your gov and civics, the hometown policies most affect your own.

Besides try to unite Los Angeles, Chicago or New York, where theres more diversity than N. Korea, Iraq, China.

Stephen Cobb

Nice blog Kareem! Appreciate the insight into Obama.

When he talked recently about "the legacy of defeat" it immediately made me think of the young guys in our film, Dare Not Walk Alone, trying to rap their way out of the poverty trap into which they were born, but having a hard time keeping it together when all the community support systems are failing.

Seems like hip-hop may have overtaken basketball as the dream ticket out of the ghetto, but the reality is more like education and a good home life are the ticket to a good life. BTW the movie opens this month in Los Angeles (let me know if youwould like tickets).

Check the trailer http://DareNotWalkAlone.com/trailer


kathi weigle

Since when are you not a republican?

kathi weigle

To Brent:
I also wonder why Kareem did not talk religion with Obama...this was a great forum to answer the real question with someone like Kareem, a muslim...hmm very telling he did not get into rleigion.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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 !

Go to KareemAbdulJabbar.com now!

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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