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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs Weird Al Yankovic
Photo illustration: Bryan MayesKareem Abdul-Jabbar vs Weird Al Yankovic

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. “Weird Al” Yankovic

As the basketball legend and the parodic genius tout their new children’s books, we compare the unlikely duo.

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In the worlds of sports, music and literature, there are often interdisciplinary rivalries that transcend the artists themselves. Whether it’s Magic and Bird, Tupac and Biggie, or Norman Mailer and everyone else, these iconic figures are often defined as much by their counterparts as by their own skills. This week, two titans of their respective fields appear at the 92nd Street Y to promote their most recent kids’ books. On Friday 27, “Weird Al” Yankovic talks with The New York Times’ Dave Itzkoff about his life and his new publication, My New Teacher and Me! And on Wednesday 2, the NBA’s all-time scoring leader (38,387 points!), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, discusses his career and his latest treatise, Sasquatch in the Paint. In the interests of creating an intense new rivalry, we size up both of these kiddie scribes.

Birth name: Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. (changed name in 1971)
Born:
April 16, 1947
Height:
7’2”
Sport:
Basketball
Position:
Center
Awards:
19-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA selection, six-time MVP, six-time NBA champion, a terrific lack of hair
Archrival:
Repping UCLA in 1968, Abdul-Jabbar squared off against Houston’s star player (and future Hall of Famer) Elvin Hayes in what became known as “the game of the century.” Houston won 71–69.
Most recent activities:
In 2012, then–Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton named Abdul-Jabbar a U.S. cultural ambassador, and earlier this year he penned a much-debated essay on the cultural significance of HBO’s Girls.
Signature move:
The Sky Hook, arguably the most devastating offensive weapon in NBA history
Literary works:
He’s the best-selling author of eight previous books. Sasquatch in the Paint is his second children’s publication.

Full name: Alfred Matthew Yankovic
Born:
October 23, 1959
Height:
6’0”
Sport:
Musical parody
Position:
Accordion player
Awards:
14 Grammy nominations (three wins), four gold and six platinum records in the U.S., a terrific head of hair
Archrival:
Back in 1996, the rapper Coolio took exception to Weird Al’s parody of “Gangsta’s Paradise.” They’ve since buried the hatchet.
Most recent activities:
Yankovic’s 2011 album Alpocalypse featured a spoof of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” After Gaga’s management initially denied him permission to use the song, Yankovic released “Perform This Way” online for free. Gaga, who readily gave her blessing, described being parodied by Yankovic as a “rite of passage.”
Signature move:
Credulous, wide-eyed smile; compositions about food
Literary works:
My New Teacher and Me! is actually the sequel to his 2011 book, When I Grow Up.

92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave between 91st and 92nd Sts (212-415-5500, 92y.org). “Weird Al” Yankovic with Dave Itzoff: Fri 27 at 8:15pm; sold out. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Budd Mishkin: Wed 2 at 8pm; $29–$36.

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