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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got Olden Polynice in awe during their first match-up until things got serious — ”Okay, it's not fun anymore”

Ultimately, it was an epic NBA debut for Olden.
Los Angeles Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

It’s always interesting to hear NBA stars and legends talk about their first encounter with their predecessors in the league. However, some stories from journeymen, such as 15-year NBA veteran Olden Polynice also make the cut. One of them was his first matchup with Los Angeles Lakers icon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

A New Yorker but a Lakers fan

In an intriguing interview with “Fair Game” in 2019, Polynice revealed that even though he grew up in New York, he had always been “a Laker fan.” So it was a very special moment for him to make his NBA debut with the Seattle Supersonics in 1987 against the Lakers. What made it even more epic, it happened right after the “Purple and Gold” received their championship rings.

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It was amazing for so many reasons,” Polynice said. “One being, it’s the Lakers. I grew up idolizing the Lakers, and [now] I’m getting to play against my favorite team. Even though I grew up in New York City, I was a Laker fan.

The unforgettable experience with his idol

Polynice was from All Hallows, Bronx, and he was well aware that then-Lakers superstar Abdul-Jabbar was from their rival high school, Power Memorial. He knew “that connection was there,” but the moment he checked into the game, Polynice still couldn’t help but get starstruck by Kareem.

I still remember when I finally checked into the game, I’m in awe of this man,” Polynice said of Kareem. “I get up there and I’m like ‘Wow! You’re Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’ [laughs]…and my coach yells at me ‘Get your head in the game!’ and I’m like [still] ‘Wow! You’re Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’ I said it and he’s lookin’ at me like ‘This kid must be crazy.’ And then he gets the ball from Magic [Johnson], he does a skyhook on me and I’m like ‘Wow! He shot a skyhook’ [laughs]. I was a fan.

Indeed, the entire scenery was a “dream-come-true” for Polynice, and it took him a while to shake it all off and get back to reality. In fact, if Kareem had not played him dirty, Polynice wouldn’t have regained his focus.

When he elbowed me…a couple of plays later [I was like] ‘Okay, it’s not fun anymore’ [laughs].

In 2004, Polynice called it a career without a single championship and individual recognition to his name. However, such experiences with Hall of Famers like Abdul-Jabbar certainly made his NBA career worthwhile.

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