Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Man of Letters

As he likes to remind anyone who will listen, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been writing books, making and starring in films and television programs and serving in a number of public, non-sporting capacities longer than he ever played basketball.

The NBA’s all-time scoring leader and multiple record-holder, MVP, all-pro, six-time league champion and basketball hall of famer has forged a rare post-athletic career and persona that drew admiring notice from Publishers Weekly.

He’s a longtime jazz devotee, and last year became a novelist in a nod to Sherlock Holmes. He recently met with his literary hero, crime fiction writer Walter Mosley (author of “Devil in a Blue Dress”), in a public discussion at the New York Public Library.

August marked the publication of his latest book, “Writings On the Wall: Searching For a New Equality Beyond Black and White.”

The title comes from a line in the Stevie Wonder song “Superstitious,” but Adbul-Jabbar’s appeal in these essays on race and American society is for reason, logic and a reverence for shared common values.

In his introduction, “Bridging Troubled Waters,” Abdul-Jabbar worries that his country has never been more divided about major social issues, especially race. For someone whose public consciousness was raised while starring as Lew Alcindor at UCLA in the late 1960s, that’s a serious admission.

And yet, Abdul-Jabbar retains the essential optimism that guided the civil rights movement of his youth, even against a current backdrop of police shootings and Black Lives Matter protests.

(Read More at Sports Biblio)