Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Athletes in Film: Kareem Abdul Jabbar

You might love him for his sky hook, or his debonair taste in goggles, but I will forever have a place in my heart for Kareem Abdul Jabbar thanks to his role in the hilarious 1980 film Airplane!
Taking part in what many consider to be some of the film's best scenes, Kareem delivers a memorable deadpan (albeit not an Oscar winning) performance as Roger Murdock.
The first gem Kareem helped turn out is the unforgettable takeoff scene.  Roger.  Huh? We have clearance Clarence. Roger, Roger.  What's our vector, Victor?
And in my favorite scene, Kareem insists that little Joey has mistaken him for a famous basketball player, and that he is simply co-pilot Roger Murdock (this of course is after Captain Oveur casually asks Joey if he has ever seen a grown man naked).  Unconvinced though, Joey continues prodding Kareem:

Joey: I think you're the greatest, but my dad says you don't work hard enough on defense.
(Kareem's getting mad
).  And he says that lots of times, you don't even run down court. And that you don't really try... except during the playoffs.
Roger Murdock
: (Kareem breaks character and grabs the kid by his shirt) The hell I don't! LISTEN KID! I've been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I'm out there busting my buns every night. Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes! 

Friggin classic.
And while he may not have been the most talented actor ever, he did burn himself into my memory again in the '90s with his priceless blue golf sweater on The Fresh Prince (a clip that is suspiciously absent from the interwebs?). Somehow his calm, quiet demeanor always makes for a priceless scene. So let's give credit to the big man, for turning out one of the most hilarious and memorable appearances ever by an athlete in film.
Roger, Roger!

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