His fellow 11-year-old campers who dared drive the lane were the first to feel what guards felt when they did the same thing in the three decades that were to come.
That was one tall dude.
Now, what might be the earliest basketball photo of a young basketball icon to be is up for auction. Young Lewis Alcindor was head and shoulders above the crowd, even then.
RMY Auctions is offering the 8×10 photo that dates to the 1958 St. Jude Boys Basketball camp on Long Island in its September Collectors Auction. Raised in the Catholic faith, the young Kareem was a student at the school.
Still nestled in the original envelope provided by the local photography student that captured the image, it was likely passed out to the participating youngsters after the conclusion of the camp.
While it was certainly unusual to see an 11-year-old of his size, none of the other smiling faces could have imagined that their six-foot tall friend would add another 14 inches or so and develop into one of the greatest basketball players of all-time.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as he later became known, was already 5’8” at age nine. By eighth grade, he had grown to 6’8 and was already dunking. In the meantime, he was honing his raw skills and—if the smile is any indication—enjoying the carefree life of a kid who loved sports. Things would become serious soon enough.
Carrying the local photographer’s stamp on the back, the photo pictures 18 other players who participated in the 1958 “Day Camp” along with a coach. You can imagine they had plenty of stories to tell in the years to come.
The photo is one of 500 vintage photos in the auction, which is set to run through Saturday, October 3.