Hillary May Have Magic, But Obama Has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
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Unbeknownst to him, basketball legend-turned-author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was pulled into the 2008 campaign fray this week.
In a radio ad airing in South Carolina, Abdul-Jabbar's former teammate Magic Johnson endorses Hillary Clinton and suggests that her chief rival, Barack Obama, is an overreaching rookie.
"We won our first game on a last-second shot," the former L.A. Lakers point guard says in the ad. "I was so hyped. But the captain of my team said, 'Take it easy rookie, it's a long season, it's a long road to the championship.' He was right."
The team captain that Magic is referencing: Mr. Abdul-Jabbar, who told the Huffington Post that Magic has it wrong about Obama. "I don't think he's a rookie. He's served as a senator very capably, and he is very skilled in terms of his ability to organize and lead people. And that's what we need right now."
Abdul-Jabbar, who recently authored a book charting the lasting impact of the Harlem Renaissance, said he doesn't fault Magic Johnson for his endorsement. "Mrs. Clinton is not a bad choice, I just think Mr. Obama is the best choice."
But he noted, "Unfortunately, Mrs. Clinton has been at many times a divisive figure, and I don't think that's intentional on her part, but I do think that's the case."
Abdul-Jabbar's book "On the Shoulders Of Giants" addresses the legacy of key African American leaders (in a glowing book review, the Washington Post said the author had transitioned from "iconic professional athlete to astute cultural historian.") But he chose not to weigh in on the recent racially-loaded spats between Obama and Clinton.
Nico Pitney is National Editor at the Huffington Post.