Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA debut captivated the country 50 years ago

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“The whole country has waited for it.”

It’s a line taken from the broadcast of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s first game in the NBA on Oct. 18, 1969 — an event approaching its 50th anniversary. Then known as Lew Alcindor, the 7-1 superstar out of UCLA scored 29 points with 12 rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks for the Milwaukee Bucks in a 119-110 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

You would have been hard-pressed to pick up a newspaper in the first months of 1969 without seeing the name Lew Alcindor written somewhere therein. He was the talk of the country, and certainly Milwaukee, as the Bucks anxiously waited to see if they would win the coin flip that would net the team the No. 1 pick to draft the generational talent, followed by the wide-eyed thrill of landing him.

The first basket: An early turnaround jumper on his first shot that marked the first two of his 38,387 career points, still the most in NBA history. He helped bring Milwaukee its only NBA championship two years later.

This is what the then-Milwaukee Journal was reporting in the months leading up to Alcindor’s arrival.

Feb. 12, 1969: From reporter Lou Chapman —

“For those of a mathematical bent, the…

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