Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, born and bred in New York City, brightened the gloom ringing Los Angeles after World Series Game 1 by sentencing himself to life as a Laker the rest of his pro basketball career.
"I personally asked Mr. (Jack Kent) Cooke to extend my contract with the expectation of finishing my career here," the erstwhile Lew Alcindor of Yankee country declared in a Forum press conference at Inglewood, Calif., "Mr. Cooke and his organization have been very fair with me. I figuted I should try and formally get it down on paper that I wanted to play out my career with the Lakers."
A-J signed for five years and a reported $3 million when he got himself traded to the Lakes in 1975 after six campaigns as a Milwaukee Buck. At 30, the 7-foot-2 five-time NBA MVP should have plenty of good years left.
Cooke, only too happy to argue to the extension, closed the deal last week, A-J said. That would be about the time the newly decorated basketball floor was being unveiled in Milwaukee's arena shared by the Bucks and Marquette U - which almost got in dutch because NCAA regulations make nonschool logos no-nos. Done by noted New York artist Robert Indiana (born a Hoosier), the design at center circle features the letters: MECCA. That stands for Milwaukee Exposition & Convention Center & Arena. Ironic, thus, that Kareem the devout Muslim deserted MECCA - only to find his Mecca on the West Coast . . . Or something . . .