Professional Big Man
After a winning college career at UCLA with only one loss to mar his record, Jabbar signed in 1969 with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks was a one-year-old expansion team with a losing season to its credit. Jabbar would have preferred to go to New York to play with the Knicks, but Milwaukee had first pick in the draft that year, and Milwaukee picked Jabbar. There was a another professional team in New York at that time, called the Nets. The Nets, a part of the American Basketball Association, offered Jabbar a contract, but he turned it down because the Bucks offered him much more money.
According to Jabbar, his first season with the National Basketball Association (NBA) was bittersweet. He enjoyed playing ball and excelled as a defensive player. Equally skilled on offense, he averaged about 29 points per game at center and was named Rookie of the Year. The Bucks finished second in the division and went to the playoffs that season. Overall, they realized an increase of 29 victories over the previous season.
The 1970-71 NBA season for Jabbar was more exciting than even his rookie year. He topped the list of scorers in the NBA and was named MVP of the NBA. Milwaukee went into the playoffs and then to the finals where they won the league championship.
The 1971-72 season for Jabbar was an instant replay of the previous year, as he led the league in scoring and collected a second MVP award. At the end of the 1972-73 season the Bucks made NBA history when they emerged with more than 60 wins for the third time since the 1970-71 season. It was the first time that an NBA team had won so many games for three years in a row.
Amid the newness and excitement of joining the NBA, Jabbar learned very quickly that the reporters had few good things to say about celebrities who kept to themselves. Although he liked to be a loner, Jabbar learned quickly that some reporters were pushy and rude and posed an unpleasant annoyance for professional athletes. Another new experience for Jabbar was the way the officials in the league seemed to tolerate players who poked and jabbed him just because of his great size. Some players even gouged his eyes while game officials looked the other way. In order to protect himself Jabbar began to wear goggles on the court. The glasses quickly became a part of the big man's image.
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