Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Says 'There's No Such Thing as the GOAT'July 31, 2018
Quick, without thinking, LeBron or MJ?
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar doesn't care.
The Hall of Fame center, who can stake his own claim as one of the five greatest players to ever live, told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated it's impossible to truly have a GOAT debate because the eras were so different:
"These GOAT discussions are fun distractions while sitting around waiting for the pizza to be served. But they’re on a par with ‘Which superpower would you want most: flight or invisibility?’ Whether I’m included or not in anyone’s list doesn’t matter. I played my hardest and I helped my teammates. That’s the most important thing I walked away with.
"The reason there is no such thing as the GOAT is because every player plays under unique circumstances. We played different positions, under different rules, with different teammates, with different coaches. Every player has to adapt to their circumstances and find a way to excel. This isn’t Highlander. There can be more than one."
Abdul-Jabbar was arguably the greatest player in NBA history when he retired in 1989. He finished with six championships, six NBA MVPs, 19 All-Star appearances and 15 All-NBA selections. The UCLA product remains the NBA's all-time leading scorer and is a testament to longevity, earning an All-Star selection in 1989 at the age of 41.
Jordan has been widely recognized as the greatest player of all time since his second retirement in 1998, responsible for the globalization of the game and perhaps the most popular athlete ever in American sports.
James is the only player since to legitimately enter into the conversation. Jordan's strongest argument is the classic rings(zzzzz) debate, while LeBron objectively bests MJ in various facets of the game—particularly when it comes to his versatility and passing.
The answer to this question, of course, is all a matter of opinion. There are objective reasons we can use to tout Kareem, MJ, LeBron or even Magic Johnson as the greatest of all time.
Kareem's probably right in that we should just appreciate each era for what it was...but where's the fun in that?