Who is the Most Accomplished Basketball Player Ever?

Marcel SmithSenior Analyst IMarch 15, 2009

There are in my opinion only six players who can be considered the greatest NBA player of all time and they are Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Larry Bird.

However, this article is trying to determine which player was the most accomplished ever in both college and the NBA. 

Magic won five championships and led the Lakers to nine Finals appearances in the hardest era in the league's history as well as being the greatest point guard and team player ever.

He won three MVP awards and rejuvenated the league with Larry Bird. He also won an NCAA championship over Bird's team in an epic championship game. 

Jordan won six championships and six Finals MVP awards along with an NCAA championship as a freshman at North Carolina.

He also won five MVP awards and ten scoring titles along with being one of the greatest offensive players ever and perimeter defenders of all time. 

Wilt was the most dominant player ever as there was no one big, strong or athletic enough to defend him in his prime.

He was the most dominant offensive player ever as he was also a great passer and he was a great defensive player. However, he only won two championships in his career along with four MVP awards and one Finals MVP award.

Russell was arguably the greatest defensive player ever and the greatest winner in team sports as he won two NCAA championships at San Francisco and eleven titles with the Celtics.

He also won five MVP awards, but he can't be considered the most accomplished player as he wasn't close to the offensive player of the other six legends as he never averaged higher than 18.9 points per game. 

Bird was by far the least gifted of this group, as he was slow, weak, and unathletic. However, he was also as skilled as anyone as he could shoot as well as anyone, was tough defensively, was a brilliant passer and as clutch as any player ever. He won three MVP awards and three championships along with two Finals MVP awards.

Out of the six players I mentioned, there is no doubt who was the most accomplished, and that is the great and usually underrated Kareem Abdul Jabbar. 

Kareem was without a doubt the most coveted high school basketball player ever as nearly college in the counrty offered him a scholarship as he was the best high school basketball player in the nation.

In his high school career, he led Memorial Academy to three straight New York City Catholic Championships, an overall record of 96 -6 and a 71 game winning streak. 

He eventually decided to attend UCLA to play under legendary coach John Wooden. During his redshirt freshman year, he led the freshman team in a scrimmage over the starters in the first game at Pauley Pavilion by a score of 75-60.

The starting team that season won the National Championship, but couldn't even come close to the freshman team due to Kareem's greatness. 

In college, Kareem averaged 26.4 points and 15.5 rebounds while shooting 64% from the field in 88 career games while leading the Bruins to an overall record of 86 - 2 and three consecutive championships.

His only two losses in college were to the Houston Cougars, who were led by the great Elvin Hayes in a game where Kareem played with an injured cornea in his left eye.

The other loss was to the USC Trojans who played a "stall game," which means that the Trojans held on to the ball for several long periods because there was no shot clock. He won the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament in each of his three years and the NCAA Player of the Year Award twice.

Finally, in the game called the "game of the century" against the Houston Cougars (who they lost to prior in the season) in the 1968 NCAA Tournament semifinals, he led the Bruins to a 101-69 beatdown over Hayes and the Cougars as they revenged their lost. 

The Harlem Globetrotters offered Kareem $1 million to play for them, but he declined. Then, Kareem was selected number one overall in the 1969 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks who won a coin flip over the Phoenix Suns as well as being drafted number one overall in the 1969 ABA Draft by the New Jersey Nets.

He chose to play with the Bucks, instead of the Nets as the ABA was struggling in terms of popularity. 

In his rookie season with the Bucks, he was second in the league in scoring with a 28.8 average and third in rebounding as he averaged 14.5 rpg a game.

He also led the team to a 56-26 record, which was a 29-game improvement from the previous season, which was the franchise's first year in the league as he won the Rookie of the Year Award. 

In his second season, the team added Oscar Robertson, who was at the end of his career, to team up with Kareem. Kareem led the Bucks to an amazing 66 -16 record, including a record at the time 20-game winning streak.

Kareem won his first MVP award that season along with his first scoring title at 31.7 points per game. In the postseason, the Bucks went 12 2 and swept the Bullets in the Finals for the franchise's first title in just their third season thanks to Kareem. 

In his next four seasons with the Bucks, Kareem won two more MVP awards and led the team to four straight division titles, despite Robertson being in decline and not close to the player he was during his prime.

In the 1973-74 season, he led the Bucks to the Finals again, but they lost in a heartbreaking seven game series to the Boston Celtics.

After the 1974-75 season, Kareem requested to be traded to Los Angeles or New York, as he felt the Midwest did not fit his cultural needs and he didn't think the team could provide him with enough of a supporting cast to compete for a championship. He got his wish when the Lakers acquired him in a six player trade. 

In his first four seasons with the Lakers, Kareem won two more MVP awards to push his total to five, which tied the record at the time, but they couldn't get past the Blazers in 1977 or the Sonics in 1978 and 1979 in the playoffs.

However, his career took a dramatic change for the better in the 1979 Draft when the Lakers drafted Earvin "Magic" Johnson and the greatest duo and arguably the greatest team ever was born.

In their first season together, the Lakers won the championship in six games over the 76ers thanks to the greatest performance ever by Magic in game 6 of the Finals without an injured Kareem.

Kareem won his sixth and final MVP award that season, which is still an all time record. In the 1980's, Kareem and Magic led the Lakers to eight NBA Finals appearances and five championships.

Overall, Kareem Abdul Jabbar is the most accomplished player ever as he was without a doubt the most dominant and successful college basketball player ever and in my opinion the greatest center in NBA history.

He is the all-time leader in total points with 38,387 points and he ranks third all time in blocked shots even though they weren't recorded in his first four seasons with 3189 in his career.

He also ranks 4th all time in total rebounds with 17440, 1st all time with an amazing 19 All Star appearances, 2nd in games played with 1560, 1st in MVPs won with six and even 31st in career assists with 5660. 

He led his teams to six championships, five with the Lakers and one with the Bucks and ten Finals appearances. He won the Finals MVP award twice in the 1971 and 1985 Finals, respectively.

He was selected to the All NBA Team 15 times, with ten of them as a member of the first team. He was also selected to the All Defensive team ten times, with five of the selections as a first team member.

Finally, Kareem was also the most durable player ever as he played in at least 76 games in each season, except for in two of them even though he played for 20 seasons. 

When arguably the greatest defensive player ever Bill Russell was asked how he would defend Kareem's sky hook, he replied, "I just thank God that I didn't play in his era cause I don't know how I would've defended him."