Author Topic: LOCKER ROOM TALK: ABDUL-JABBAR IS THE BEST BASKETBALL PLAYER EVER — PERIOD  (Read 573 times)

Offline imchills

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here has been lots of talk about greatness over the past few weeks.

In large part, this has been because the NBA playoffs were lackluster and nondescript. With the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors steamrolling their way to the NBA Finals, the dominance created a vacuum that was filled by debates over greatness: the greatest team, the greatest player.

Could the 1996 Chicago Bulls defeat the Golden State Warriors of the past two seasons?

The NBA has a new champion, the Golden State Warriors, but an old debate rages: Who is the greatest of all time? Who is the GOAT?

The conversations usually boil down to Michael Jordan and LeBron James, although now that James has failed to win a fourth NBA championship, critics say the debate over the GOAT is over.

Hands down, they say, the GOAT is Michael Jordan.

I say, not so fast.

The most intriguing aspect of the debate is that the player rarely brought up in the conversation may be the legitimate GOAT: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Leaving Abdul-Jabbar out of the conversation was so egregious that I was compelled to jump in and make the case: Abdul-Jabbar is either the greatest of all time or, at worst, the second greatest, but he must be in the conversation, even if you include active players such as LeBron James and now Kevin Durant.

Why is Abdul-Jabbar left out of this conversation?

A bias against big men?

His famously sour relationship with the news media?

His early and outspoken embrace of orthodox Islam?

None of this should have anything to do with his legitimate standing as the GOAT, but we know it does. Abdul-Jabbar has an impressive résumé as a winner, as a scholar, as an activist.

Yet he is placed a distant second, or even third, behind Jordan and James and now behind Durant. Often he is not mentioned.

Each of us has our standard of greatness.

For devotees of analytics, greatness is all about the numbers: statistics, cold hard facts, how many titles, how many points.

How much? How many? How often? How many MVP awards, how many points, how many rebounds, field goal percentage. Take your pick.

Abdul-Jabbar is the author and owner of the most unblockable shot in basketball history: the skyhook. He was a six-time NBA MVP, a 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA selection and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member.

He was a member of six NBA championship teams as a player, two as an assistant coach. Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leader in points scored (38,387). At one point or another, he was also the leader in games played (1,560), minutes played (57,446), field goals made (15,837), field goal attempts (28,307), blocked shots (3,189), defensive rebounds (9,394), career wins (1,074) — and personal fouls (4,657).

I filter greatness through many prisms. I view greatness through the prism of longevity and one’s potential to have an enduring legacy. Viewed in this manner, Abdul-Jabbar wins.

From his career at Power Memorial High School, where he led his team to 71 consecutive victories, to college, where he led UCLA to three consecutive national championships, through the NBA and the sports afterlife, where he has become an author and a filmmaker, Abdul-Jabbar has been a consistent and forceful presence.

I filter greatness through an Afrocentric prism and hold black athletes to a higher, more unique standard.

When you consider the hurdles African-Americans have had to overcome — desegregating sports leagues, integrating intercollegiate athletics, breaking through as head coaches and executives — black athletes in the United States have traveled a hard road to glory.

Indeed, whether you are an athlete, an aspiring partner in a law firm, a journalist or a firefighter, being black, as James said before the NBA Finals, is tough.

My criteria for greatness, then, attempts to project whose presence will resonate across decades because of how they’ve used their platform to advocate for social justice.

Who most effectively performs on the court, while resisting and fighting against racism? Who has made it easier for the next generation? Who has most effectively passed the torch and added to the foundation?

These are factors I consider when discussing the GOAT.

The list shrinks.

As a student at UCLA, Abdul-Jabbar joined student protests in the late 1960s. In 1967 at the age of 19, he flew to Cleveland to participate in the Cleveland Summit organized by Jim Brown. Known then as Lew Alcindor, Abdul-Jabbar joined other GOATs in supporting Muhammad Ali’s decision, as a conscientious objector, not to be drafted into the U.S. Army.

I can see James making that trip at age 19; I cannot see Jordan making that trip.

Among active players, James edges out Durant.

James and Durant have careers that continue to unfold. James has won more titles and has been more publicly involved on the social justice front. Durant has largely been silent — or, at least, not publicly vocal — on social injustice issues. Perhaps that will change now that his stage has expanded.

But here are the statistics that, in my book, give Abdul-Jabbar the edge: several books published, books that mostly deal with African-American history. His most recent book examines his relationship with legendary UCLA coach John Wooden. His documentary, On The Shoulders of Giants, offers a revealing look at the Harlem Rens. Abdul-Jabbar recently recorded a documentary tracing his personal journey.

As a college player, Abdul-Jabbar arguably compelled the NCAA rules committee to ban the dunk. The legislation was called the Lew Alcindor rule. And James may have been the inspiration behind the move to block high school athletes from going straight into the NBA.

Jordan advocates point out that Jordan owns an NBA team. That is the sort of economic imperative that Brown advocated as one of the only means of achieving freedom: create jobs, control the means of production as much as possible.

Whose legacy will resonate across decades? Jordan’s? James’? Durant’s? A player still unknown?

Who knows? But for the here and now, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, from my perspective, is the GOAT.

You may not put him at the top of your list, but if Abdul-Jabbar is not part of the discussion, you’re having the wrong conversation.

https://theundefeated.com/features/kareem-abdul-jabbar-is-the-best-basketball-player-ever/

Offline MindofShadow

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wait who the hell put durant anywhere near the top anyting lol.

and being anywher enear James is just funny at this point. HE probably threw that chance away by joining a finals team

Offline Curtis Metcalf

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wait who the hell put durant anywhere near the top anyting lol.

and being anywher enear James is just funny at this point. HE probably threw that chance away by joining a finals team
We'll see. He's near LBJ in the sense that they are both top 5 today. On the other hand, he might be the second-best player on his team, nevermind on the planet. In terms of history, there's still a long way to go yet for both of them. KD is not near the all-time top now but I suppose he could get there. Joining GSW doesn't disqualify him in my reckoning any more than Moses Malone joining the Sixers hurts his legacy. 

I have a different view on all the bitching and moaning about KD making that choice. I call bullsh*t on all those guys claiming they would never go join their rivals back in the day. The main three guys we point to -- MJ, Magic & Bird -- were all fortunate enough to be drafted by competent organizations. (Check out the 30 for 30 on the Celtics/Lakers, both of those teams were ridiculously stacked.) Plenty of guys left disappointing situations seeking a winning environment (I'm looking at you, Mr. Barkley).

What are players supposed to do when their front office demonstrates it doesn't have the skill or will to win championships? That applies equally to LBJ's first go round with the Cavs and to the Thunder. I respect the entrepreneurial approach to taking advantage of the rules today to get chips. What else are they supposed to be playing for?
« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 10:24:02 am by Curtis Metcalf »
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Offline MindofShadow

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I think Lebron could retire tomorrow and he'd be in the top 5 conversation easily.

Obviously its nitpicking but when you get to the top of these all time lists, nitpicking is part of it.

The problem with durant isn't that he chose to join another team with stars. The issue is that he chose to join the BEST team, a team with a championship, followed by the best record ever followed by narrowly losing the finals... and he chose THAT team to join lol.

He didn't just leave to elevate a team of stars to the next level... he just went straight to the top.

Yes, past teams were stacked. THere were also less teams back in the day though as well so the talent was more concentrated.

I think the difference with KD vs Lebron in terms of "leaving" teams is that Lebron left, and dragged the team up to championship status. He was clearly the alpha dog in the situation. ESPECIALLY in Cleveland. Lebron "created" the super team more so than joining a super team

KD left and joined an already established, 3 allstar, mvp, super team. In his prime.

Like I said, nitpicking.

If NBA would jsut get rid fo the stupid "max contract" thing, this sh*t wouldn't happen lol

Offline Curtis Metcalf

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Comments below.
I think Lebron could retire tomorrow and he'd be in the top 5 conversation easily.
Absolutely. I'd say top 3 right now. I think he's still got 2-3 late prime years left plus some all-star level years if he wants them. I think his game will age nicely.

Obviously its nitpicking but when you get to the top of these all time lists, nitpicking is part of it.
True dat.

The problem with durant isn't that he chose to join another team with stars. The issue is that he chose to join the BEST team, a team with a championship, followed by the best record ever followed by narrowly losing the finals... and he chose THAT team to join lol.

He didn't just leave to elevate a team of stars to the next level... he just went straight to the top.
Just like Moses.

Yes, past teams were stacked. THere were also less teams back in the day though as well so the talent was more concentrated.
Maybe. There are 5-6 more teams since the 80s. On the other hand, there are many, many more international players now so the pool of potential talent is also larger.

I think the difference with KD vs Lebron in terms of "leaving" teams is that Lebron left, and dragged the team up to championship status. He was clearly the alpha dog in the situation. ESPECIALLY in Cleveland. Lebron "created" the super team more so than joining a super team
Completely agree with this assessment of LBJ's move.

KD left and joined an already established, 3 allstar, mvp, super team. In his prime.
I can understand leaving the Thunder. I'm not convinced their ownership is willing to invest in creating or maintaining a contender. I think KD chose a culture and basketball philosophy that he just likes, and is winning big. Again, the Moses Malone parallel is pretty strong.

Like I said, nitpicking.
Yup, that's what we do.  ;)

If NBA would jsut get rid fo the stupid "max contract" thing, this sh*t wouldn't happen lol
True also. Then middle-class players would get screwed. You'd pretty much have superstars and minimum salary guys. Or just get rid of the salary cap and screw the small-market teams. Every system has consequences, intended and otherwise.
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Offline MindofShadow

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Moses isn't really ever mentioned as a "GOAT" though.

Great, HOF great, one of the best. But top 10 convo? naw.


yeah, no more max salary screws the players but from a fans perspective, it would be great IMO

Offline Curtis Metcalf

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In my view, KD still got work to do to pass Moses on the all-time list before even thinking about getting in the top 10.

I agree with your assessment of Moses. Not quite top 10. But he was an 3-time MVP. He's the only dude to win MVP in consecutive years for different teams. He was the reigning MVP and went and joined the Sixers who lost the finals in 6 without him to Magic and them. (Well, he signed an offer sheet as a RFA which Houston matched and then traded him to the Sixers.) Oh, he won the finals MVP that year too.

I'm just saying, doesn't that sound a lot like KD's move?
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
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Offline MindofShadow

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In my view, KD still got work to do to pass Moses on the all-time list before even thinking about getting in the top 10.

I agree with your assessment of Moses. Not quite top 10. But he was an 3-time MVP. He's the only dude to win MVP in consecutive years for different teams. He was the reigning MVP and went and joined the Sixers who lost the finals in 6 without him to Magic and them. (Well, he signed an offer sheet as a RFA which Houston matched and then traded him to the Sixers.) Oh, he won the finals MVP that year too.

I'm just saying, doesn't that sound a lot like KD's move?

about as close as a comparision as you are going ot get.

but those sixers didn't win a title the year before that.

So Moses came, put them over the top... while winning the MVP.

so, while very similar, there were some key differences.


Offline Hypestyle

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come to Detroit, LeBron.  Help us out.   ;)  Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert runs most of downtown Detroit at this point.
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Offline MindofShadow

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come to Detroit, LeBron.  Help us out.   ;)  Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert runs most of downtown Detroit at this point.


Dan just gave Lebron the out he needed if he ever wnats to leave cleveland again

"i need to go to a team that has a owner that is commited to winning"


Offline Curtis Metcalf

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In my view, KD still got work to do to pass Moses on the all-time list before even thinking about getting in the top 10.

I agree with your assessment of Moses. Not quite top 10. But he was an 3-time MVP. He's the only dude to win MVP in consecutive years for different teams. He was the reigning MVP and went and joined the Sixers who lost the finals in 6 without him to Magic and them. (Well, he signed an offer sheet as a RFA which Houston matched and then traded him to the Sixers.) Oh, he won the finals MVP that year too.

I'm just saying, doesn't that sound a lot like KD's move?

about as close as a comparision as you are going ot get.

but those sixers didn't win a title the year before that.

So Moses came, put them over the top... while winning the MVP.

so, while very similar, there were some key differences.
Fair enough.  8)
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Offline Curtis Metcalf

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come to Detroit, LeBron.  Help us out.   ;)  Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert runs most of downtown Detroit at this point.


Dan just gave Lebron the out he needed if he ever wnats to leave cleveland again

"i need to go to a team that has a owner that is commited to winning"
As far as I'm concerned, LeBron can do whatever he wants. He delivered on his promise to win one for Cleveland. As well as just about everything anybody has ever expected from him and then some. There have been rumors about him heading to LA...
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Offline Hypestyle

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come to Detroit, LeBron.  Help us out.   ;)  Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert runs most of downtown Detroit at this point.


Dan just gave Lebron the out he needed if he ever wnats to leave cleveland again

"i need to go to a team that has a owner that is commited to winning"
As far as I'm concerned, LeBron can do whatever he wants. He delivered on his promise to win one for Cleveland. As well as just about everything anybody has ever expected from him and then some. There have been rumors about him heading to LA...

The Lakers? Seriously? Hasn't that team bottomed out now that Kobe isn't part of the lineup?
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Offline Curtis Metcalf

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Remember there are two teams in LA.
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Offline Hypestyle

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Remember there are two teams in LA.

!!! I forgot, lol--- just how far did the clippers get this year?

What's this I'm reading about Chris Paul and Blake Griffin becoming unrestricted free agents?  Where else are they going to go?
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