Kareem Abdul-Jabbar questions Scottie Pippen's Choice of the NBA's G.O.A.T.

Last week, Scottie Pippen threw a conversation grenade when he said that LeBron James could end up being the greatest NBA player of all-time, surpassing Michael Jordan. He obviously hadn't had that discussion with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Kareem, who we last heard from when he recently complained about a lack of respect from the Lakers organization, wrote an open letter to Pippen, accusing the former Chicago Bull of having "limited perspective" when it comes to ranking the league's greatest. 
You obviously never saw Wilt Chamberlain play who undoubtedly was the greatest scorer this game has ever known. When did MJ ever average 50.4 points per game plus 25.7 rebounds? (Wilt in the 1962 season when blocked shot statistics were not kept). We will never accurately know how many shots Wilt blocked. Oh, by the way in 1967 and 68, Wilt was a league leader in assists. Did MJ ever score 100 points in a game? How many times did MJ score more than 60 points in a game? MJ led the league in scoring in consecutive seasons for 10 years but he did this in an NBA that eventually expanded into 30 teams vs. when Wilt played and there were only 8 teams.
Most of Abdul-Jabbar's points are valid although his last comment there may be a little flawed. Yes, there were fewer teams and fewer players. But today's athlete is bigger, faster, stronger and generally more talented. A lot of that is thanks to guys like Wilt and Kareem. As younger players watched the games of the greats, they were able to emulate and eventually elaborate on those skills. There's no denying the greatness of Bill Russell, but he never ran into anyone with the freakish combination of strength, size and speed that LeBron James possesses.

Kareem goes on in his letter to mention Russell's career accomplishments and says "the ring is the thing, and everything else is just statistics." Certainly rings have a lot to do with it, but championships are a team accomplishment. Kareem can't honestly believe he would have won six titles if he spent his whole career with the Milwaukee Bucks.

There are undoubtedly plenty of people who don't have the perspective to appreciate how good some of the NBA's legends truly were. In a fast-paced, Internet world, not a day goes by where something isn't declared The Greatest Thing/Person/Game Ever. And if everything else truly "is just statistics" as Kareem says, then it's disingenuous for him to lean on Wilt's numbers (but just two titles) to prove his superiority to Jordan or anyone.

But more than this...what's gotten into Kareem lately? It was never much of a secret that he was a grouchy fellow. But in the past he chose to live his curmudgeonly existence in relative silence. Recently, however, Cap has started firing shots every which way. While Russell has maintained his dignity and still remains one of the league's most respected figures with players past and present, Kareem is quickly turning into the old man yelling at the kids to get off his lawn.


  1. Don't quite agree with your comments at the end. If anybody, and I mean ANYBODY can provide more direct and legitimate criticism with a historical perspective than Kareem....maybe the only one that could do so would be Russell.
    Kareem's criticism's are entirely LEGIT, as he is a legend in his own right!!

    Jordan at his very best was not even as good as Kareem, when Kareem was at his very best.
    - JR -

  2. I agree with John ! Kareem's criticism's are legit ! and he knows his History ! He is just stating the facts. notheing more nothing less. players today might jump higher but that doesnt make them better ! Kareem has won at every level ! from grade school to pros ! how many players can say that ! even Wilt or Bill cant Claim that honor ! if you dont believe me look it up.

  3. I concur. Kareem greater than Jordan. Wilt greater than Jordan.

    Why should I doubt Kareem? Who would know better? A sports writer? A blogger? A fan? Jordan was great, don't get me wrong, but his being the greatest of all time is a product of marketing more than his skills.

  4. Pippen just only said Lbj COULD be the greatest...he never said he is the greatest..stop critising Pippen. You can't really simply say Kareem is the "greatest" winning at all levels?
    college isn't that much, it goes up to 3 years of it, so not alot of players will win the title...
    I would think Russell is the greatest, his got 11 rings. Seriously #1 amount of total points don't mean your the greatest..rings are more superior. Kareem is at least in the top 5 greatest but not the greatest. Its a team game.

  5. What you fail to take into account is that the legends of the game would have worked harder to be stronger and faster if they were in today's game. Skills were a higher priority in those days and the players of yore were definitely much more skilled than the players of today. It isn't even close. Yes, the players of today have developed their athleticism to a higher degree, but if the legends of yore played today, they certainly would have focused more on athleticism, being involved in the same style of play and in the same systems. Would they have developed their skills to such a high degree? Probably not, because the players today generally do not. But can a skills player exceed athletic players? Of course. Look at Tim Duncan for a prime example. Steve Nash is another good example. If the Wilt or Russell of yore played today, as they played then, their skills would be at such a comparatively transcendent level that they would easily dominate in today's oafish version of the game. Easily.

  6. Hey Kareem,

    You're comparing Wilt's stats to MJ's stats and at the end you base greatness on how many rings they have won? You need to see a doctor.

    Put the Prime Wilt today, I'm sure he will average stats just like Dwight Howard's stats. Put the prime MJ in any era, he will dominate, especially in Wilt's time.

    And about the Lebron James COULD one day be the G.O.A.T... He would have to make MAJOR changes in his style of play when he steps in his 30s in order to be on that path.

    WHAT HE NEEDS (in my opinion):
    A very good post offense.
    Efficient Mid-Range Jump Shot
    Polished One-on-One defense
    Post Defense

    He won't have those freakish athletic abilities forever. If he doesn't change his style of play when time comes, you can say bye bye to your argument about him being the GOAT.

    Michael Jordan is STILL the Greatest Basketball Player of All Time!

  7. The latest comments on “the greatest” keeps me thinking about this game that we love but as usual, find difficulty in equating when it comes to saying who or which it the best team, the best shooter, the best rebounder, the best player, etc.
    I grew up with this game, played it on the college level have had my childhood friends play it on the college, international and NBA levels. All of this has made me love it.
    I thought I had seen all the best play from Bill Russell, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robinson, Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry and then Kareem Abdul Jabar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and now Timmy Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Labron James, Dwight Howard, and others.
    What I have come to realize is that it is very difficult to say who is best. One thing for sure, I like all of us, love to see these guys play. I am fortunate to be able to say that I have seen all of them. Perhaps we can just evaluate these players by generation and leave it at that.
    Oscar Robinson never scored a 3 point field goal!

  8. Kareem is right on point. He's talking more now and telling it like it t i s. People never wanted to hear the truth that's why he kept to himself and not spoke he's an highly intelligent man and he was a great basketball player. Wilt Chamberlain was the greatest player of all time he also was a great ladies man as well but that's a different story. Kareem kept talking & telling us your opinions we want to hear it.