Last year Kareem played abroad on a team sponsored in part by L.A. Gear, but he no longer wants to put himself in situations that reveal how thoroughly his competitive fire has been banked. In a limousine going home from a recent autograph session at a West Hollywood sporting goods store, he suggested he could appear as a player-coach, maybe do a one-on-one type of thing. "An exhibition, O.K.," he said. "A game, no."
That's another life. "There is, uh, no longer a sense of discovery," he says, referring to basketball. And there is certainly no interest in trying to satisfy a standard of performance he set decades ago.
"I turned on the news the other night, and there were these sports highlights, David Robinson just wearing somebody out. I thought, 'Yeah, let somebody else deal with him.' It was a great feeling."