Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, thinks people should listen to facts, not Donald Trump.
“We have to react to the facts and not what somebody wants people to believe because he’s running for office,” he said. “I don’t think that does the nation any good.”
Abdul-Jabbar, who became an author and political activist after his basketball career, spoke at the National Press Club on Monday about his new book, “Writings on the Wall.“
In his book, he has suggestions about how to communicate on issues involving race relations.
“We’re just now at the point where we can talk about these things and try to find the solution,” he said. “That’s really my motivation: solution.”
In the current election, Abdul-Jabbar called Trump’s comments on race “reprehensible.”
“Mr. Trump has really said a number of things that is disappointing… with regard to race and the value of communities,” he said. “Some of the things that he has to say are just reprehensible. I think it’s really unfortunate. That’s who the Republicans chose.”
He added, “I urge all of you to vote and vote your conscience. I won’t tell you who to vote for but I hope you care enough about our country to do the right thing.”
The former Los Angeles Lakers center, 69, converted to Islam at 24 years old.
“I had the pleasure of introducing Mr. [Khizr] Khan at the Democratic National Convention,” he said. “Our Constitution is still the most dynamic document that’s very been created. It’s something we should be proud of and use.”
“Mr. Khan understood that and had no problem with his son dying for our nation. It really made me feel good to have a Muslim of his character and knowledge. It shut a lot of people up, including somebody who has a lot of blonde hair,” he said, alluding to Trump.
He also commented on Trump’s current battle against women who claim he sexually assaulted them in the past.
“I just find it odd that Mr. Trump for years bragged about assaulting women and now when these women materialize and say, ‘Yes, you did assault us,’ he’s saying they lied,” Abdul-Jabbar said.
As an athlete turned activist, Abdul-Jabbar finds pride in others following in his footsteps.
“I had a chance to talk to [Colin Kaepernick] before he did something really crazy,” he said. “I think he did it the right way… he wants to make our country a better place for the same reason that I do. He’s going to get there and he’s going to do whatever he feels is necessarily. I’m really happy to movement is spreading.
But, he said on what other athletes can do, “there’s no template that fits everybody.”
“My good friend Michael Jordan has decided to commit and he’s giving some money to the NAACP legal defense fund and some of the police organizations in North Carolina,” he said. “He’s able to involve himself politically.”
“It’s not as bad as it sounds, you just have to have the courage to take a stand,” he added.
The former professional basketball player also said he has no yet had a chance to see the National Museum of African American History and Culture, but hopes to soon.
Asked if he was ever stopped by the police for no reason, Abdul-Jabbar responded, “Oh, yeah.”
“I used to drive on the New Jersey Turnpike and was stopped [a couple times]. I didn’t get arrested. They didn’t write me a ticket. They just wanted to see what was in my trunk,” he said.
“I would tell anybody that’s dealing with that type of bigotry that you have to confront it.”
Former Attorney General Eric Holder was also present.