Is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar The Greatest Basketball Player Ever?

O' JohnsonContributor INovember 17, 2009

About two weeks ago, the sports world was stunned with the news that basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (formerly known as Lew Alcindor) had been diagnosed with leukemia.

After hearing this unfortunate and heartbreaking news, I took interest in educating myself more on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Even tracing back to his dominating days under the name Lew Alcindor. Upon my research and learning more about Kareem, I asked myself a question....."Was I brainwashed as a youth?"

Growing up in the late 1980's, I was raised idolizing Michael Jordan. Like many of the people who were kids in the late 80's- early 90s, I was brought up on the famous "Like Mike" jingle, Nike Air Jordan sneakers, his McDonald advertisements, Space Jam, etc. Michael Jordan was an immortal figure in my eyes and I though there was no player that could ever or ever did come close to "his airness".

I have researched the careers of many of the great legends that has played the game. While taking an in-depth look at Kareem's Nba career, it left me wondering if Kareem is the most neglected Nba legend. Now to determine who is the best basketball player of all time, it would take an objective view and an accurate comparison.

With this said, I will compare the careers of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, and Bill Russell.

Nba Championships:

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar- 6, Michael Jordan- 6, Bill Russell- 11

winner: Bill Russell

Nba Mvps:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar- 6, Michael Jordan- 5, Bill Russell- 5

winner: Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Scoring titles:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar- 2, Michael Jordan- 10, Bill Russell- 0

winner: Michael Jordan

All-star appearances and Nba selections

- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has 19 All-star game appearances (most in Nba history), 15 All Nba selections (most in Nba history).

- Michael Jordan has 14 All-star game appearances and 11 All Nba selections.

- Bill Russell has 12 All-star game appearances and 11 All Nba selections.

winner: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Career Totals

- This one is not even close, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's career totals are groundbreaking.

Points- 38,387 (all-time leading scorer)

Rebounds- 17,440 (3rd all-time)

Blocks- 3,189 (3rd all-time)

Assists- 5,660 (31st all-time)

winner: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Career Averages

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar- 24.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 3.6 apg, 2.5 bpg

Michael Jordan- 30.1 ppg (highest in Nba history), 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg, 0,8 bpg, 2.3 spg

Bill Russell- 15.1 ppg, 22.5 rpg, 4.3 apg. (defensive statistics were not recorded during Russell's career)

winner: Michael Jordan

After reading this, it is obvious that a case can be made for either of these three as the greatest player in Nba history.

However, determining the best basketball player of all time has to go beyond his Nba career. We also have to take into account his entire basketball resume, including college and high school.

Ncaa Championships

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar- 3, Michael Jordan- 1, Bill Russell- 1

Kareem Abdul Jabbar has the highest college career scoring average at 26.4 ppg, the highest season scoring average at 29.0 ppg, scored the most points in a college game, 61, and holds numerous other Ncaa individual records.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the most accomplished and greatest college basketball player.

1969 Naismith college player of the year, 2 time USBWA college player of the year, 3 time first-team all American, 3 time Most Oustanding player in Ncaa tournament, 2 time college player of the year.

What is most amazing about Kareem's Ncaa career is the rule changes he influenced. Just look up the "Alcindor rules". Also, there is the legendary story of Kareem's Ucla Bruins freshmen team completely dominating the varsity team. And this was when freshmens weren't eligible to play.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the greatest high school basketball player as well. Kareem led his high school team to three straight championships, an astonishing 71 game winning streak with a 79-2 overall record and finished 2067 points for his high school career.

So who's the greatest player in Nba history? You can't go wrong with either Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, or Bill Russell. Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson as well. I personally give the edge to Michael Jordan and Bill Russell in terms of Nba career.

But when it all comes down to everything basketball, the greatest basketball player of all time is none other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor).


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.