young black man wearing a basketball uniform with the number 33, holding a basketball in his PR hand; tall city apartment buildings in background

Photograph by Richard Avedon ©The Richard Avedon Foundation

Lew Alcindor, basketball player, 61st Street and Amsterdam Avenue, New York, May 2, 1963, 1963 (printed 1990)

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This work captures a legend in the making. At that time, Lew Alcindor was the star center at the all-boys Power Memorial Academy in New York City, which he led to a seventy-one-game winning streak and three Catholic High School Athletic Association championships. But the photographer Richard Avedon created a portrait with power beyond its famous subject. He composed Alcindor’s image on New York’s asphalt streets, framed by apartment buildings. The seven-foot-two basketball player’s lanky body fills the frame, his feet elegantly crossed as he grasps a basketball in his right hand as though it were the size of a grapefruit. A group of small, abstract human figures fills the picture’s middle ground, accentuating Alcindor’s size and grandeur. Alcindor would become known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a Basketball Hall of Famer and the National Basketball Association’s all-time leading scorer.

Details
Title
Lew Alcindor, basketball player, 61st Street and Amsterdam Avenue, New York, May 2, 1963
Artist Life
1923-2004
Role
Photographer
Accession Number
2011.15
Curator Approved

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young black man wearing a basketball uniform with the number 33, holding a basketball in his PR hand; tall city apartment buildings in background

Photograph by Richard Avedon ©The Richard Avedon Foundation

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