When Veronica Mars returns this summer, fans might notice a familiar name in the credits of the Hulu revival that doesn’t belong to an A-list celebrity, but an NBA Hall of Famer. When show creator Rob Thomas announced the show’s return last fall, he revealed that Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would be part of the Season 4 writing staff, but how did that happen?
‘Veronica Mars’ writer Abdul-Jabbar is one of the greatest NBA players of all time
For those who are too young toremember, Abdul-Jabbar started his legendary basketball career in the late1960s at UCLA, where, as Lew Alcindor, he led the Bruins to three NCAAbasketball championships (it probably would have been four if he would havebeen allowed to play as a freshman).
He was so dominant with his abilityto dunk that the NCAA banned slam dunks in 1967, and the popular shot didn’treturn to the college game for ten years. After college, the Milwaukee Bucksmade Kareem the number one pick in the 1969 NBA draft, and he played for theBucks for five years before they traded him to the Lakers.
Between 1974 and 1989, Kareem andthe Lakers were one of the most dominant teams in the NBA (think Steph Curryand the Golden State Warriors), and he led them to six NBA championships.Kareem is considered to be one of the greatest players of all time, and in 1996was voted number two behind Michael Jordan.
However, after his retirement fromthe league, Kareem didn’t become a basketball coach or TV announcer, he startedwriting books.
Kareem is a best-selling author
While he played for the Lakers,Kareem wrote his first book, Giant Steps,that covered his basketball career, his conversion to Islam, and his politicaland social views. After he retired, he wrote numerous books and alsocontributed columns to different publications all over the country.
This isn’t the traditionalbackground for a TV writer, and VeronicaMars boss Thomas admits that the way Kareem joined the staff is a “crazystory.”
“He’s quite aRenaissance man… He wrote a column on the five young adult books everyoneshould read. One of those was my second novel, called Slave Day. I was so thrilled that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar named one ofmy books as one of the five books everyone should read. In that column, he saidthat he was both a Veronica Mars fanand an iZombie fan,” Thomas told TVLine.
For Slave Day’s 20th anniversary, Thomasreached out to Kareem’s management team and asked if the athlete would writethe forward for the book’s re-release. Thomas eventually got word back fromKareem, telling him that he would love to write the forward as long as he couldplay a zombie on iZombie.
Kareem wanted to develop his own television show before ‘Veronica Mars’
Since he worked andlived in LA during his basketball career, the 72-year-old appeared in numerousTV shows and movies, with one of his most famous roles being co-pilot RogerMurdock in the 1980 film Airplane!.And, after he retired from basketball, he continued to work in film andtelevision.
That made it incrediblyeasy for Thomas to agree to Kareem’s terms, and the basketball player showed upthis season in iZombie as Zed, anundead city councilman.
But he wasn’t satisfiedwith a guest role on the CW show. Kareem and his writing partner Raymond Obstfeldtold Thomas they wanted to develop a show of their own, and Thomas told themthey needed some TV writing experience.
He told the duo, “Well,you know if you do want to work in television, it would be great for you to geta little bit of experience. You’re both VeronicaMars fans. Do you want to come on the staff and see how a television showworks?”
Both Abdul-Jabbar and Obstfeld agreed to join the writing staff, and Thomas says that every time Kareem walks into the Veronica Mars writers’ room, it weirds him out. The duo ended up co-writing episode 6 (which premieres with the rest of Season 4 on July 26th), and Thomas says the script was “terrific.”
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