Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on “Patience”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 072 | NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sto… | Flickr

There are few sports heroes that deserve the work hero, but basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar appears to be one of them. Here is an excerpt from a list of “Twenty Things I Wish That I Had Known When I Was Thirty” as published in Esquire in April, 2013. I was especially impressed by this quotation on “Patience.” So well communicated, his growth is evident.


Be patient. Impatience is the official language of youth. When you’re young, you want to rush to the next thing before you even know where you are. I always think of the joke in Colors that the wiser and older cop (Robert Duvall) tells his impatient rookie partner (Sean Penn). I’m paraphrasing, but it goes something like: “There’s two bulls standing on top of a mountain. The younger one says to the older one: ‘Hey pop, let’s say we run down there and screw one of them cows.’ The older one says: ‘No son. Let’s walk down and screw ’em all.’” Now, to counter the profane with the profound, one of my favorite quotes is from the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer: “Talent hits the target no one else can hit; genius hits the target no one else can see.” I think the key to seeing the target no one else can see is in being patient, waiting for it to appear so you can do the right thing, not just the expedient thing. Learning to wait is one of my greatest accomplishments as I’ve gotten older.”

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