Forty-four years since he played at UCLA, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is still the center of the attention as the NCAA gears up for its biggest basketball weekend of the year.
In celebrating the tournament's diamond jubilee this year, Sports Illustrated picked the 75 greatest players in the history of college basketball, and Abdul-Jabbar was ranked No. 1.
Abdul-Jabbar will also attend the Final Four in Atlanta where fans will have the opportunity to mingle with him and other college basketball greats such as Bill Walton, Tim Hardaway, Elgin Baylor, Tyus Edney, Dominique Wilkins and John Salley. There will be functions Saturday and Monday.
Abdul-Jabbar will be happy to chat with fans about his storied career with the Bruins, which included three NCAA titles, but he fears there may be a generation gap.
"My NCAA career was so long ago that anybody who saw it is probably in an old-age home right now," he says. "A lot of people want to talk about the Lakers because they really relate to how great the competition was in the 1980s."
For the sake of his picks in this year's tournament, Abdul-Jabbar will be pulling for Louisville.
"My brackets have done OK because I picked Louisville to win it all," he says. "I at least picked that part of it. But all the rest of my brackets are all messed up."
As a big man, Abdul-Jabbar has a special appreciation of how Louisville center Gorgui Dieng has developed into a force.
"The way he's playing, he really gives them some balance, a strong presence inside to go with their really good guard play," he says. "He's really become a key factor in their success."
Although it isn't in the Final Four this year, VCU is one school that has caught his eye in recent years.
"The type of play that has impressed me the most has been Virginia Commonwealth," he says. "I thought coach Smart did a great job with the press and getting his team to play an up-tempo game. It really suits their talent. I thought he really distinguished himself as a great coach and great recruiter."