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NBA Great Abdul-Jabbar Named U.S. Cultural Ambassador

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has appointed basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to be a global cultural ambassador for the United States.

In his new role, the NBA's all-time leading scorer is expected to promote the importance of education, social and racial tolerance and cultural understanding, and to talk about his experiences in America and the good qualities of sports.

The former Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers standout is to start his mission on January 22 by making a weeklong trip to Brazil, where he will meet with young people.

"We, from time to time, ask distinguished Americans to take on an additional responsibility in the midst of their very busy lives as a cultural ambassador for our country, and we're thrilled that you have agreed to do this," Clinton told the basketball Hall Of Fame member during the appointment ceremony in Washington on January 18. "I know you'll be going to Brazil later on in the month and will have a great opportunity to talk to young people."

Longtime jazz aficionado Abdul-Jabbar said he was excited about his new role, adding that he had been inspired as a youth when jazz great Louis Armstrong undertook a similar mission.

"I remember when Louis Armstrong did this back during the Kennedy administration, so I'm excited," he said.

Abdul-Jabbar, 64, scored 38,387 points in 1,560 games over a 20-year NBA career and was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player in 1971 and 1985.

compiled from agency reports