Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Kareem stands tall
once again

THE curtain opened and there was Kareem. There he was. The great begoggled one.

Sans goggles.

He was reclining, all legs and angles somehow flowing smoothly across the room. He had a Panama hat and a gray goatee. And he looked exactly the way he should. Exactly. It was him.

There has been a lot said about Kareem. At best he was a deeply introspective individual, they said. At worst, a surly loner. So we, the early arrivals, decided to play it cool and give him his space. You don't put the full-court press on Kareem. One wrong move and he could go into a shell. Or worse, step on you.

But then he came over, all 7 feet 2 inches of him, to meet his guests, to talk to the people who had come for a media luncheon to celebrate his Montego Joe's Caribbean Festival this week (in part to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities Hawaii).

And he was so nice.

Unbelievably nice, genuinely nice, genially nice, graciously, thoughtfully, tenderly nice. There was a warmth about him, as he made sure he got everyone's name just right, like he really wanted to know. Like it was important to him. There was a warmth in his eyes. You could feel it.

It was a delicious shock, the kind of pleasant surprise that you live for. Kareem, the guy you always hoped he would be.

Maybe we caught him on a good day. Maybe he's a changed man. Maybe everyone had it wrong. Maybe he can stand people in 10-second increments.

I'll take it.

But then he left. Of course. He was gone, ducking under the door frame, suddenly, our time with an all-time great was over, leaving us to a free meal of jerk chicken and other Jamaican delicacies.

That's an even trade.

My 10 Seconds With Kareem. My 45 Minutes With Lunch.

THEY SAY THAT Kareem doesn't like to talk about basketball. No problem. That wouldn't have stopped me. After all, I'm a big fan of George Foreman ... because of his grill.

We could've gotten way beyond the boundaries of sports. Kareem is a renaissance man! He's cultured and dignified and intelligent. You can talk to him about history and music and politics. So many questions I would have asked the big man, had he not bolted. So many questions ...

>> Tell me about Airplane! Is Leslie Nielsen as cool in person? Did he really have the lasagna? Do you like movies about gladiators?

>> What about the baldness? When did you decide to finally shave it all off? Was there a final straw? Were you just looking in the mirror one day and think, "What the hell"?

>> How do you know if you're a Goggle Person? Can anybody get away with that, or do you need a certain "look"? Did you try out different styles? Cherokee Parks just couldn't quite pull it off, could he?

>> Is that really you in that music video or a Kareem impersonator?

>> Jack Nicholson's new mustache: Looks good or not?

Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at

E-mail to Sports Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin