Did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Arike Ogunbowale really deserve to be eliminated on ‘Dancing with the Stars: Athletes’?

Gold Derby’s racetrack odds predicted that basketball players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Arike Ogunbowale would be eliminated in week one of “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes.” It turns out we were one week premature. They survived the first double elimination of the season only to fall victim to the second double elimination this past Monday night. But did they really deserve to be sent home? Scroll down to vote in our poll at the bottom of this post.

Their ousters didn’t surprise our users who made their predictions during the week. Abdul-Jabbar had leading 2/3 odds of being eliminated, and Ogunbowale was right behind him with 5/1 odds. For Abdul-Jabbar there was a nearly two-foot height difference between him and his pro partner Lindsay Arnold, and the 71-year-old also had limited range of motion compared to his younger rivals in their athletic prime. And for Ogunbowale it might have been a problem of self-promotion — or the lack thereof. Strict NCCA rules limited the college basketball star’s outreach to fans.

Basketball players also usually struggle with the dances themselves, but in this case it might not have been an issue of skill at all. Abdul-Jabbar was the lowest scoring contestant in both weeks of competition, but he improved significantly from his first dance to his second. And Ogunbowale was a true surprise. Her week-one salsa was impressive, but her week-two foxtrot showed a more elegant, vulnerable side of the student athlete. When you combined her individual dance with her team dance Monday night Ogunbowale actually had the third highest judges’ score, right behind Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu, who were tied for first place.

Perhaps in a longer season Abdul-Jabbar and Ogunbowale would have had time to build momentum with their gradually improving dance skills, but with the season only lasting four weeks there wasn’t sufficient time for them to build a connection to viewers voting at home. Do you think they deserved to be eliminated, or should they have stayed in the competition? Vote in our poll below.

Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Monday on ABC. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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