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Lakers Moments: Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar get to know each other

April 8, 2011 |  3:30 pm

West A head above the rest: Dispensing some dry humor, Jerry West elicits a smile from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was not yet a Lakers player, during a television show Dec. 15, 1972.

At 28, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar joined the Lakers in 1975 after guiding the Milwaukee Bucks to the 1974 NBA Finals. He had played for them since being drafted in 1969.

He won his fourth NBA most-valuable-player award in his first season in L.A., finishing with a record 1,111 defensive rebounds, and continued to dominate despite the team's disappointing playoff performances in the latter half of the 1970s.

No matter. The Lakers' misfortunes changed dramatically following Magic Johnson's arrival in 1979. Kareem and Magic were arguably the best duo in NBA history, heralding in the "Showtime" era as the Lakers morphed into one of the most successful dynasties in professional sports. Kareem helped the the team win two more titles over the last four years of his career.

After 14 years with the Lakers, he retired and was listed as the NBA's all-time leader in points, blocks, MVP awards, All-Star game appearances and seasons played.

Additionally, Kareem became the fourth player in Lakers history to have his jersey retired, after Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and his old friend, Jerry West.

Read more about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and why he holds the record for longest tenure with the team in All Things Lakers, the L.A. Times’ interactive database of all things purple and gold.

Join the Lakers at L.A. Times Facebook page.

-- Austin Knoblauch and Sarah Ardalani

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times