Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar underwent a successful quadruple coronary bypass surgery on Thursday, according to a statement released Friday by UCLA Health System. The surgery was performed by UCLA’s chief of cardiac surgery, Dr. Richard Shemin, who said that he expects Abdul-Jabbar to make a full recovery from the surgery. The day of the surgery also happened to be Kareem’s 68th birthday.
Per the UCLA statement, the six-time NBA Most Valuable Player and all-time scoring champion will not be doing any media interviews regarding the bypass, and neither will his physician or spokesperson. He has asked that people keep him in their thoughts and “cherish and live each day to its fullest.”
Current Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeannie Buss offered up her thoughts on Twitter Friday, asking everyone to send the “Captain” positive energy.
— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) April 17, 2015
Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation, also sent Abdul-Jabbar love.
Love to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) as he undergoes bypass surgery today. Center on my all-time team. More politically vital than ever.
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) April 17, 2015
Prior to winning numerous NBA titles and MVPs, Abdul-Jabbar starred at UCLA under his given name of Lew Alcindor. He changed his name in 1971 after having previously converted to Sunni Islam in 1968. In the aftermath of his playing career, he has been named cultural ambassador for the United States, written several books and is a featured columnist for Time. He’s also been quite outspoken on the topics of religion and politics.
Here’s wishing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a speedy recovery.