Kareem became Kareem in Milwaukee.
In 1971, in Year 3 of the franchise, the Bucks became the fastest expansion team to win an NBA title – a record that still stands. The next day, Lew Alcindor became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
And so here is the part of the story where: We do not debate whether he is the greatest player in franchise history. Because he is.
You have the first two seasons of his career (Alcindor) and then the next four seasons (Abdul-Jabbar). The first two included: one championship, one MVP, and one scoring title (and a runner-up). The next four included: two MVPs (and a runner-up), PER league ranks of 1, 1, 2, and 1, and one season as the league blocks leader (this pre-dated Defensive Player of the Year voting).
This is what Bill Fitch (10th all-time in coaching wins) once said about the center famous for the skyhook and everything else good:
“Going into a game against Lew Alcindor [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] is like going into a knife fight and finding there's no blade in your handle.”
You might say that Lew Alcindor and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar are the two best Bucks ever. You might call it a coin flip.
33 Franchise Records (and more)
Here are 33 ways that Abdul-Jabbar is the best in franchise history.
And keep in mind, the 33 here are just to match his jersey number, but he holds many additional franchise records.
(Hat-tips to basketball-reference.com and @BucksPR and the media guide.)
3 MVPs. Next: Everyone at 0.
4 All-NBA First Team selections. Next: Marques Johnson and Sidney Moncrief at 1
1 Finals MVP. Next: Everyone at 0
1 Rookie of the Year. Next: Everyone at 0
6 All-Star Games. Next: Sidney Moncrief at 5
5,902 career field goals made. Next: Bob Dandrige at 4,826
7,161 career rebounds. Next: Bob Dandridge at 4,497
14,211 career points. Next: Glenn Robinson at 12,010
.547 career FG%. Next: Bob Lanier at .541
42.7 career minutes per game. Next: Vin Baker at 38.3
30.4 career points per game. Next: Glenn Robinson at 21.1
15.3 career rebounds per game. Next: Elmore Smith at 9.8
3.4 career blocks per game. Next: Elmore Smith at 2.7
26.7 career Player Efficiency Rating. Next: Marques Johnson at 21.2
17.9 career Total Rebound %. Next: Alton Lister at 17.6
25.0 career Defensive Rebound %. Next: Alton Lister at 24.1
90.3 career Defensive Rating. Next: Elmore Smith at 94.9
114.7 Win Shares. Next: Sidney Moncrief at 88.5
.577 FG% (1970-71). Next: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at .574 (1971-72)
44.2 minutes per game (1971-72). Next: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 43.8 (1973-74)
34.8 points per game (1971-72). Next: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 31.7 (1970-71)
16.6 rebounds per game (1971-72). Next: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 16.1 (1972-73)
3.5 blocks per game (1973-74). Next: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 3.3 (1974-75)
29.9 Player Efficiency Rating (1971-72). Next: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 29.0 (1970-71)
.577 Effective Field Goal % (1970-71). Next: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at .574 (1971-72)
25.4 Wins Shares (1971-72). Next: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 22.3 (1970-71)
46 points in playoff game (04/03/70). Next: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 44 (04/18/74)
37 points in Finals game (05/07/71). Next: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 36 (04/30/74)
39 points in home opener (10/24/70). Next: Terry Cummings at 34 (10/27/84)
53 points in road game (02/29/72). Tie: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 53 (01/27/71)
24 field goals made (01/25/73). Next: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 23 (12/10/71)
10 blocks (11/03/73). Tie: Larry Sanders at 10 (11/30/12)
8 triple-doubles. Next: Paul Pressey at 6