Say “Sky Hook” and you think Kareem. The indefensible shot is tied forever with the man who mastered it. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made millions off the Sky Hook. But should he be making money off of the phrase itself, especially when he’s not the one who came up with it?
It turns out Abdul-Jabbar trademarked the phrase “Sky Hook,” which is why I’ve been capitalizing it (Don’t want to get sued). He claims he’s been using the phrase since his high school days. But ask anyone else, and it only dates back to his time with the Milwaukee Bucks. And it isn’t even his to begin with.
It’s fairly common knowledge that Eddie Doucette, longtime Bucks play-by-play man, came up with the term “Sky Hook.” Heck, he even explains where it came from:
“I came up with that one during the double-overtime win in Game 6 of the ‘74 Finals. Back in the old Boston Garden, the broadcasts were done from the first balcony and the balconies kind of hung over the lower loge and actually almost hung over the floor. So you were looking straight down over the floor. They were great seats.
“I remember Kareem getting the ball down on the low post and then swinging back into that right baseline, and he launched what was probably a 15-foot hook, but when he turned into the baseline, he went up with the right hand and it was fully extended. It almost felt like I could reach out and touch it.
“It almost felt like I could see it at eye level, and it just came to me at that time.
“That hook was so high that it was coming out of the sky, and I gave it the name ’sky hook.’ ”
Okay, sounds pretty cut-and-dry. So why did Abdul-Jabbar’s manager claim this week that he trademarked the phrase 10 years ago, and that he had been using it since his days at Power Memorial High School in New York?
Doucette claims he’s fine with this.
“He’s using it for the right reasons,” Doucette said. “That’s OK.”
The right reasons? I looked up the trademark at the US Patent And Trademark Office, and there it is, registered to Abdul-Jabbar’s company Ain Jeem Inc., for use on “CLOTHING, NAMELY, SHIRTS, DRESSES AND PANTS.” So, merchandising.
I’ve got no problems with Abdul-Jabbar profiting from something he helped make famous. But how about a little credit where credit is due?