Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Kareem expresses interest in UCLA job
By Peter Yoon
LOS ANGELES -- Former UCLA and NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is hoping to dive into the Bruins' search for a basketball coach.
Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer and a three-time national champion as a member of the UCLA basketball team, said on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on Tuesday night that he'd like to be the next UCLA coach.
On the show to promote the reality show "Splash" in which Abdul-Jabbar is matching skills against other celebrities in a high-diving competition, the 7-foot-2 former center with no Division I coaching experience said he'd welcome the opportunity to return to Westwood as coach.
"I certainly would be interested in coaching the team," he said. "It would be great to have an opportunity to restore the program to what it was. Not in terms necessarily of winning, but just having the guys get their degrees and learn about how to play the game of basketball. UCLA is still putting out fine scholars but the basketball program is suffering a little bit."
Abdul-Jabbar has worked as a special assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. He has also coached a high school team and led the Oklahoma Storm to the U.S. Basketball League title in 2002. His manager, Deborah Morales, said Abdul-Jabbar has been receiving a lot of support from alumni.
"They are saying that they are behind him in any way possible including financially," Morales said. "At the highest level."
Asked if Abdul-Jabbar had actually had any contact with the UCLA administration or any indication if he was a candidate for the job, Morales said to check with UCLA.
A UCLA spokesperson referred to a general statement by athletic Dan Guerrero that the school would "not comment on the process, the candidates or provide status updates."