Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers dreams of dribbling the ball between his legs as he goes to the corner, then hitting a jumper from 20 feet.
"Everybody wants to play the ideal game and that would be the ideal game for me," Abdul-Jabbar said. "I'd love to be able to play like that, but it's unrealistic. That's not my role."
Abdul-Jabbar, once thought to be too religiously and intellectually oriented to take the game seriously is finally at peace with himself and with the world.
He is still a reserved and private person, however. Little is known about him because that's the way he wants it. He has obtained calmness and contentment through his Muslim religion. He needs little else to soothe him.
He bought a home in Bel Air. Calif. and spends much of his time there. When he does care to socialize. Los Angeles is like heaven compared with Milwaukee, where he lived for six years.
The lifestyle of the large, mixed population of Los Angeles allows Abdul-Jabbar to mingle without fealing like an-outsider.
His interests outside the game are varied. He likes old fight films oriental rugs, books and music. (He and Spencer Haywood of the New York Knicks are said to have the largest record collections in the NBA.)
When Laker owner[WORDS ILLEGIBLE] Cooke first announced that the team had acquired Abdul-Jabbar from the Bucks. Cooke said, "He's as[WORDS ILLEGIBLE]
[PARAGRAPHS ILLEGIBLE] style of a professional basketball player is rough on me, because like it or not. I'm a personality. That infringes on my right to be a private person and for that alone, it's not as desirable as some other situations I can think of. But I like the sport, which is very important," he added. "I still want to win. When you're just looking to see you get paid on time, that's a very unprofessional attitude and that's when it's time to reconsider.
"My outlook on the game hasn't changed that much over the years," the 29-year-old said. "It's my profession. It's how I earn my living. At the present time, it's what I want to do most. There are a number of things I might want to do when I retire. Journalism is one of them. I've been interested in that all my life and I'll want to get involved in it some way or another.
"The game is still fun for me now, though, it's not like when you go to the park or the gym on Friday or Saturday night and play with your bud[WORDS ILLEGIBLE] ingly despondent with his secluded life in Milwaukee, but as much as he disliked it, he never let it show in his play.
In his six seasons with the Bucks, he averaged 32.5 points and 15.5 rebounds and Milwaukee won more than 70 per cent of its game.
"I managed to keep my profession and what went on in Milwaukee separate or I wouldn't have been able to make it six years there," he said.
There was a time not too long ago when practically all of his points were off the "sky hook" or dunks. Now ho turnaround jumpers, and drives to the also shoots a lefthanded hook, short basket. He has worked on improving his game and knows he is a better player now ever before.
"They're giving me more freedom to move here," he said. "In Milwaukee, (coach) Larry Costello used various plays to get specific shots for certain people and he was a master at setting that up. There wasn't much freedom, though.
"I've always had the ability to score in ways other than the hook, but this is the first chance I've had to do it. We'd be running into each other in Milwaukee if I tried to play there like I am now.
"The first four or five years I was in the league, I was played basically one-on-one. There are 2 1/2 men on me all of the time now. One in back, one in front and a guard going for the ball. It's made it necessary for me to do other things."
In his first year with the Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar played under Bill Sharman. Things did not go well. Sharman was replaced this season by West, a man Abdul-Jabbar has a great deal of respect for.
"The whole atmosphere has lot more organized and better prepared than we were last year. That was our major problem -- lack of preparation and organizaion."
As dedicated as he is to basketball, there is at least one thing more important to Abdul-Jabbar: his religion. He is an orthodox, or Hanafi, Muslim and his name translates into Generous Servant of Allah."
In his religion, it is wrong to refer to him as simply "Jabbar." The "Abdul" should always accompany the "Jabbar" something[WORDS ILLEGIBLE] ers and radio and television broadcasters do not remember. He notes they never take the "Van" off "Arsdale."