Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is frequently mentioned in relation to the GOAT debate. Despite winning six NBA titles, six MVP awards, and being an All-Star for 19 seasons, Abdul-Jabbar is now but a footnote in the discussion. LeBron James and Michael Jordan both deserve to be mentioned when talking about the best athletes of all time, but Abdul-Jabbar should also be mentioned.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was an incredible scorer, and his skyhook is still the game’s most unstoppable shot. Additionally, the fact that he was able to play for as long as he did in an age before sports science is what made him so astounding.
Pat Riley on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
LeBron James will now break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA scoring record, but as Pat Riley told ESPN, that doesn’t take anything away from his genius.
“I always said that Kareem was the greatest player of all time because of his longevity. Kareem was unique from the standpoint that he could play at a high level, play 80 games a year … get beat up because of double- and triple-teams and guys just taking shots at him. He just developed this mental toughness along with a great physical body to really last forever,” Riley said.
“I put Michael [Jordan] in there too. But Kareem was the greatest at that time because of his longevity and the fact that he continued to perform at a high level when he was in his late 30s and 40s,” he added.
It’s not surprising that Pat Riley thinks this way about Kareem’s GOAT case given that he was the head coach of the Showtime Lakers. However, the facts also support it, so it’s not simply his opinion.
Is Abdul-Jabbar better than LeBron James and Michael Jordan?
According to Pat Riley’s reasoning, LeBron James is the GOAT because of his incredible longevity, which even Kareem never accomplished. However, Abdul-Jabbar has an advantage over James because he has won two more titles. Michael Jordan is tied with him in that regard, but he had a slight advantage thanks to his four additional Finals MVP awards.
The only player besides LeBron James to rank in the top 10 in three distinct stat categories is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It’s reasonable to state that whenever the topic of the greatest ever is brought up, his name should always be brought up. Everyone has an opinion on this, but nobody can deny that Kareem is the GOAT.