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The Strange Story of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Necklace

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s birthday was on Saturday — he turned 75 (just like the NBA this season!). And in a nice case of good timing, today’s Uni Watch entry is about him.

Here’s the deal: Uni Watch reader Daniel Wilson noticed something interesting while recently watching video of a Hawks/Bucks game from Oct. 17, 1970 (a notable game because it was Pete Maravich’s pro debut). Kareem was in his second season with the Bucks at the time, although he was still known as Lew Alcindor in those days. Midway through the game, as Kareem steps up to the free-throw line, his necklace appears to be entangled in the strap of his jersey. You can see the sequence in the video above — it lasts about 30 seconds.

That’s weird. But was the necklace entangled by accident, or had Kareem intentionally tied it to the strap, maybe to keep it from bouncing around? I looked up photos from that time period and found several pics showing the same phenomenon (for all of these, you can click to enlarge):

Was it just on the green jersey? Nope — he did the same thing with the white home jersey. These next photos aren’t quite as sharp, but it’s clearly the same thing going on:

The clearest view I’ve been able to find is this one, in which it appears that the necklace has been looped/tied around the strap:

If we look again at one of the earlier photos, we can see that the necklace pendant appears to be a crescent and star — a symbol of Islam (although Kareem didn’t start publicly using his new name until 1971, he had converted to Islam in 1968):

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Faaaascinating. The only photos I could find of the necklace/strap phenomenon all appear to be from 1970, so it was apparently a short-lived thing. Still, I’m surprised I wasn’t aware of it until now — seems like the kind of thing that would have come across my radar at some point.

I couldn’t find any articles that mentioned the necklace. Anyone know more?

(Major thanks to Daniel Wilson for starting me down this new rabbit hole.)

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Possible MLB Mother’s Day leak: We don’t yet know what MLB’s holiday uniforms will look like this year (that announcement usually comes in mid-April, so I expect we’ll be hearing something soon), but Twitter-er Noah Kastroll says he found this Pirates cap in Pittsburgh, which could be the design for Ma’s Day. Pretty brutal design, but whaddaya gonna do.

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The right way to cosplay: A tip of the Uni Watch cap to a bunch of fans who showed up at yesterday’s Astros/Mariners game dressed as the 1995 Mariners, complete with long hair for the guy dressed as Randy Johnson, catcher’s gear for Dan Wilson, and a skinhead wig for Jay Buhner. Nicely done!

(Thanks to everyone who let me know about this one.)

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Too good for the Ticker: This is pretty awesome — a guy made a soccer ball out of a pair of old soccer cleats! Really fun stuff. Kudos for all the creative thinking and work that went into this project!

(My thanks to Jeremy Brahm for bringing this one to my attention.)

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Suiting up: Reader Tom Delamere plays sax in a British Columbia combo called Decadence and wore his Uni Watch hockey jersey for a recent band portrait. The guy next to him, in the Hockey Night in Canada jersey, is Matt Carter, who’s also the sports information coordinator for Vancouver Island University. “He’s also the public address announcer, in-game DJ, organist, and more,” says Tom. Gotta love a band with a good jersey game!

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Dove update: Bit of a milestone on Saturday, as one of the baby doves free-ranged over to the adjacent feeder compartment — first time we’ve seen one of them do anything even vaguely independent (although the baby soon climbed back to the other side and resumed being sheltered under the adult). As you can see, the babies now have real feathers instead of peach fuzz, and they’re definitely getting bigger.

They also enjoyed a nice Easter breakfast yesterday:

Based on what we’ve read, the babies should be ready to leave the nest sometime around the end of this week. I’ll keep you posted.

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The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: The Rangers are the latest team to announce that their alternate uniforms are currently unavailable due to what’s being referred to as “supply chain issues,” although it’s really about the shortened spring training (from @LSUUnis and Phil). … “The scoreboard operator at Coors Field on Saturday night seemed to have some trouble distinguishing between Charlie Blackmon and the Rockies’ newly acquired Kris Bryant,” says Kary Klismet. … A Twitter user made a hybrid Twins/Minnesota Wild jersey with Wild LW Kirill Kaprizov as the NOB and number (from multiple readers).

Football News: USFL 2.0 had its first uni glitch yesterday: Michigan Panthers G Maea Teuhema was missing his NOB (from @TJN3). … Speaking of the USFL, Phil will have a big feature on them this weekend, so watch for that. … Georgia players received national championship rings at this weekend’s spring game (from Kary Klismet).

Hockey News: Two NHL officials, linesman Scott Cherrey and referee Brian Pochmara, both happened to officiate their 1,000th games yesterday, and both received commemorative jerseys (from John Muir and Paul). … The Canadiens wore rainbow-accented warm-up jerseys on Saturday (from Wade Heidt). … A fan in Brazil made soccer shirt concepts for every NHL team (thanks, Phil). … Cross-posted from the baseball section: A Twitter user made a hybrid Minnesota Twins/Wild jersey with Wild LW Kirill Kaprizov as the NOB and number (from multiple readers).

Soccer News: After scoring a goal on Saturday, D.C. United striker Ola Kamara took off his shirt to reveal an undershirt that read, “Hvil i fred mormor,” or “Rest in peace, Grandma” in Norwegian. That ended up being crucial to the game once he was sent off for two yellow cards, that celebration being the first. … The captains of three of the four men’s Scottish Cup semifinalists wore armbands supporting the charity United to Prevent Suicide this weekend. … Scottish clubs Motherwell and Rangers’ women’s teams are hosting games at their men’s teams stadiums soon or did recently, while Sheffield United in England are planning one for a different local venue than usual, Rotherham United’s stadium. … Cross-posted from the hockey section: A fan in Brazil made soccer shirt concepts for every NHL team (thanks, Phil). … British pro tennis player Emma Raducanu wore a Tottenham Hotspur shirt today during a practice session for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Germany (from John Muir).

Grab Bag: Both of Virginia’s lacrosse teams supported the charity One Love over the past few days with warm-up shirts, among other items. … With NASCAR’s Cup Series racing yesterday at a dirt-covered Bristol Motor Speedway, Chase Elliott’s car had ad-clad mud flaps (from @Dofunny9). … Australian Football League club Richmond’s men’s team revealed a guernsey design last week for their upcoming ANZAC Day eve game. … Reader James Gilbert has two follow-ups related to the amateur boxing robe in yesterday’s Ticker: First, Charlotte newspaper archives have photos of the robe being given out in 1940, and second, the robe shown yesterday was bought by an Axios editor. … Here is a review of a new coffee table book on 18 Formula One drivers’ helmet designs (from Kary Klismet). … The next two are also from Kary: The Colorado High School Activities Association expanded what participants in girls’ gymnastics are allowed to wear. … A College Place, Wash., police officer happened to find several of his department’s old badges at an estate sale. … Ever wanted to buy a vintage bowling alley? Here’s a beauty that’s available in Michigan (thanks to all who shared).

Comments (21)

    This wasn’t worth submitting to the Ticker but I was at the Columbus Clippers game yesterday and they wore red vs the Syracuse Mets in orange. It was BRUTAL.

    link.

    But it’s MiLB, so I cut the teams a bit of slack. This would be completely unacceptable in the bigs.

    For the Kareem story I’m going with ‘Occam’s Razor’ — he clipped it to his jersey so it wouldn’t hit him in the face.

    apparently the panthers commemorative jersey is misspelled, saying Pochamara instead of Pochmara.

    I don’t see how the lack of alternate MLB uniforms can be attributed to a shortened Spring Training. Maybe there is more information that will change my thinking.

    It seems that attribution requires us to believe the teams had no idea they’d be using an alternate uniform this season and didn’t place orders well in advance, that the manufacturer had no idea the teams would be using the alternate uniform, once again, this season, and that neither of them had any idea when the season may start (regardless of the strike).

    It would also suggest there would need to be some rule that prohibits the ordering or construction of those uniforms before Spring Training starts. Since it is the team that places the NOBs on the shirts, there was also no value in waiting until rosters were set before making the shirts.

    I also don’t see “supply chain” issues being anything more than an excuse since MLB requires a long lead time on uniform changes and approvals giving the manufacturer almost a year to check their inventory of resources and obtain the needed materials well in advance of the season opener.

    It may be the manufacturer choosing not to employ sufficient machine operators to make the uniforms until they desired to do so, thus reducing costs and conveniently blaming supply or timeframe.

    So, if someone has a valid reason for no alternates being available now, I’d like to and would appreciate seeing it. Not that these missing uniforms are of any importance at all, I’m just weary of companies blaming “supply chain” for their own decisions and/or incompetence.

    Player measurements for new uniforms are typically taken at the beginning of spring training, in February. The turnaround time from then to Opening Day is is close to six weeks.

    This year the entirety of spring training was three weeks, plus getting everything going after the lockout ended resulted in some delays in getting all the players measured, so there was a much shorter production window.

    Also, you are mistaken when you say “it is the team that places the NOB on the shirts.” That’s true for in-season acquisitions but not for the first set of uniforms. Those NOBs are applied by the manufacturer.

    That’s true for in-season acquisitions but not for the first set of uniforms. Those NOBs are applied by the manufacturer.

    While true and for argument’s sake, a convenient rationale, in instances such as you describe (shortened spring training, six week turnaround, etc.), couldn’t teams nevertheless keep enough inventory on hand, including numbers and NOB lettering to *make* the jerseys themselves? Sure it might delay things slightly, but I’d think most teams could still have created enough alternates to be ready for opening day or shortly thereafter.

    OTOH, since most softball alternates (full unis, like the link, St. Louis’ link, for example, are exceptions) are the scourge of baseball, maybe it’s for the best that many teams’ alt jerseys weren’t ready on time.

    Agreed. I’m not missing the alternates. As a Phillies fan, I could do without the creams. I enjoy the classic pinstripes.

    I’m just fed up with company after company cutting production costs to increase their own profits and blaming anything but themselves.

    Sorry about my rant.

    Thank you for the response and ideas.

    I’m thinking if player measurements were the delaying issue, then it would also have delayed their regular home and away uniforms. And, if the teams were using old stock for regular home and away uniforms because “they have to wear something on the field” then they could have used old stock for the alternates as well. Is that a reasonable belief?

    If the NOBs are the delaying issue then, because teams can make individual nameplates during the season in very little time before a game, I’m confident MLB teams could have sewn all their own NOBs on the uniforms in under two days, three days at the most, less than one series. A factory full of machine operators could do it in under half a day, if they chose to do so.

    I’m thinking if player measurements were the delaying issue, then it would also have delayed their regular home and away uniforms.

    The factory put priority on home/road, so those were done first. Alts taking longer.

    You are once again mistaken about NOBs. Teams do not “make individual nameplates” during the season. They take blank jerseys and have their local sewing contractors add the NOB lettering for in-season acquisitions. No MLB team currently uses nameplates, except for a couple of throwback designs.

    With all due respect: You don’t know what you’re talking about here. Please stop. Thanks.

    Re: Boston’s City Connect jersey.

    A lot has been made of the fact that the colors of the Boston Athletic Association are blue and yellow. But the font is also a bit of a takeoff on the old funding credit bumper from WGBH, the PBS affiliate in Boston.

    Take a look at the first clips of this compilation:

    link

    Those Mariners fans are truly obsessed with aesthetics! They also got the era appropriate tailoring/style of pants, the negro league patch (a la 1995), the black cleats common in the day, the pine tar smear on Buhner’s right hip!

    Jabbar’s entangled necklace sounded familiar so I did a search and found that RickAZ mentioned it and provided a link to a pic in the 9/10/19 Uni Watch comments section. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast but I remembered that.

    Wow! Crazy day and I’m just now reading this. Very impressive that you remember me writing this. As a kid growing up in SoCal as a huge Kareem fan, it always surprised me that the NBA allowed jewelry back then.

    The White Sox did not wear their ‘83 Sunday unis yesterday. Is this also due to supply chain?

    Hopefully the Mets BFBS is infinitely delayed. But with the removal of the headspoon, would that make it more or less likely to be affected by supply chain issues?

    I hope the container ship containing the Mets BFBS jerseys container gets caught in a storm (no personal accidents on board ofcourse) and said container disappears in the depths of the ocean (without hurting any sea life, naturally). Lost forever.

    Mariners wore their Cream/Royal/Yellows yesterday against the Asterisks. Of note, Jesse Winker and JP Crawford sporting stirrups. Still haven’t seen the Royal blue tops yet.

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