Hidden under a stairway at a retail store in Pasadena you’ll find the handprints and footprints of one of the greatest Lakers players of all time.
Concrete Impressions of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Hands and Feet
Los Angeles has no shortage of offbeat and strange attractions hidden in the crevices of the city’s infrastructure. But one of the most unexpected sights you will come across just might be the foot-and-hand impressions of basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at a Target on East Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.
Underneath a set of outdoor stairs that leads to the store’s adjacent parking structure, there are numerous pairs of handprints imprinted in reddish-colored concrete. These surround a granite trapezoidal plaque that reads “Lend us a” over a pictogram of a hand. It seems this is meant to be read as “Lend Us a Hand.”
Beneath this pictogram, the plaque reads “Target Grand Opening” and the date March 13, 1994 at the bottom left. As one can likely guess, this is the day this particular, still-operating Target opened its doors.
At the time, at 175,000 square feet, it was the largest Target in the United States. It also holds the distinction of being the first ever multi-level Target. It replaced the J.W. Robinson’s department store that had stood on the corner of Colorado and Oak Knoll since 1958.
Most of the hands surrounding the plaque are small-sized — probably made by children. But to the upper left a larger pair of hands and feet stands out. This set of impressions is signed with “Abdul Jabbar #33,” referring to the Lakers’ jersey number 33, worn by the innovator of the skyhook during his 14-year career with the team.
By 1994 Abdul-Jabbar had been retired from the Lakers for about five years, but he still carried enough recognition in Los Angeles to headline the opening of the nation’s largest Target.
Today it’s not obvious what “Lend us a Hand” stands for. After all, these impressions have been sitting there — under the stairs, partially covered by ferns, and all but ignored — for 28 years. But based on the context, it feels like it would have represented some sort of non-profit organization benefiting youth. It’s not known if this particular organization still exists or if it has since been absorbed into another.
The Los Angeles Phenomenon of Concrete Footprints and Handprints
Famous people imprinting their hands and feet (and even nose or two) in concrete is a storied tradition in Los Angeles since 1927. The most famous location, of course, is the visitor and superhero-packed entryway to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (technically now the TCL Chinese Theatre). There’s also a smaller collection of such impressions in front of the Tarantino-owned Vista Theatre in Silver Lake as well as a collection of rock star handprints in front of Guitar Center on Hollywood Boulevard.
You’d expect to find movie star handprints in front of a theater and rock star hand prints in front of a music shop. But you probably wouldn’t expect to find a basketball star’s impressions at the entrance to a retail shop headquartered in Minneapolis.
Visiting Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Prints
Except for the most ardent of fans, a visit to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s prints probably isn’t worth a trip to Pasadena on its own. But if you happen to be Pasadena-adjacent (perhaps visiting the Pasadena Bubble House or the Birth of the Cheeseburger), then swing on by this unusual concrete memorial.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s Hands
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