Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who left Cal for the NBA after one basketball season, doesn’t really need a college degree. After all, he earned somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million playing professional basketball, and a bachelors degree won’t really change that that equation.
But that’s exactly what Abdur-Rahim, 35, will be awarded on Monday morning in ceremonies at Zellerbach Hall.
And here’s what I think of that: Nice going.
Abdur-Rahim was the most gifted scorer I’ve ever seen play for Cal. He walked in the door and scored at least 30 points in each of his first three college games. He averaged 21.1 points per game as a freshman.
Then he left for the NBA, and was the third player picked in the 1996 draft. If the purpose of attending college is to prepare for a career, Abdur-Rahim did that better than most.
But he wasn’t content to attend classes for just one year, then begin collecting his NBA paycheck. Now an assistant general manager for the Sacramento Kings, Abdur-Rahim said in a statement that finishing his degree always has been his intention.
According to Jason Jones’ blog in the Sacramento Bee, Shareef compiled a 3.8 grade-point average on the path to his sociology degreee, which will provide a tremendous example to Atlanta area youth involved with his Future Foundation in his home state.
“Receiving my degree will be an extremely proud moment for me and my family,” Abdur-Rahim said. “I hope it will also help inspire many of the students our foundation proudly serves and encourages.”
Abdur-Rahim averaged 18.1 points during a 12-year NBA career. He was an All-Star. He won a gold-medal at the 2000 Olympics.
But his most impressive achievement may be the one that is being recognized Monday morning at Zellerbach Hall.
It’s the one he didn’t need to accomplish, but did anyway.