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A talkative Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reflects on becoming himself

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been a best-selling author, civil-rights activist, actor, historian and one of the greatest basketball players who ever lived.

One thing Abdul-Jabbar has never been — at least not in public — is chatty.

"I'm not known for being a blabbermouth, you know?" the soft-spoken Abdul-Jabbar concedes with a smile, something else he was never particularly known for during his playing days. But, he adds, still smiling, his public can expect to see that change — and soon.

This fall Abdul-Jabbar will embark on a cross-country tour as part of "Becoming Kareem," a stage show in which he'll discuss his life, answer audience questions and...