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Kareem writes open letter to Pippen about LeBron, Jordan

May 31, 2011, 2:09 PM EDT

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar AP

Everyone has climbed all over Scottie Pippen in recent days for putting LeBron James on the same pedestal with Michael Jordan, calling Jordan the best scorer of all time but LeBron a potentially better all around player. At best it felt a little premature. In Chicago that was blasphemy.

Now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has entered the discussion with an open letter to Scottie Pippen given to our man Mark Medina at the Los Angeles Times.

The letter says Pippen is wrong — Jordan isn’t even the best scorer ever.

Dear Scottie,

I have nothing but respect for you my friend as an athlete and knowledgeable basketball mind. But you are way off in your assessment of who is the greatest player of all time and the greatest scorer of all time. Your comments are off because of your limited perspective. You obviously never saw Wilt Chamberlain play who undoubtedly was the greatest scorer this game has ever known. When did MJ ever average 50.4 points per game plus 25.7 rebounds? (Wilt in the 1962 season when blocked shot statistics were not kept). We will never accurately know how many shots Wilt blocked. Oh, by the way in 1967 and 68, Wilt was a league leader in assists. Did MJ ever score 100 points in a game? How many times did MJ score more than 60 points in a game? MJ led the league in scoring in consecutive seasons for 10 years but he did this in an NBA that eventually expanded into 30 teams vs. when Wilt played and there were only 8 teams….

In terms of winning, Michael excelled as both an emotional and scoring leader but Bill Russell’s Celtics won eight consecutive NBA Championships. Bill’s rebounding average per game is over 22.5 lifetime, MJs best rebounding years was eight per game (1989).… Bill played on a total of 11 championship teams and as you very well know, Scottie, the ring is the thing, and everything else is just statistics. So I would advise you to do a little homework before crowning Michael or LeBron with the title of best ever. As dominant as he is, LeBron has yet to win a championship. I must say that it looks like Miami has finally put the team together that will change that circumstance. Its my hope that today’s players get a better perspective on exactly what has been done in this league in the days of yore.

Affectionately,

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,
NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer

I love that Kareem puts on his letters “NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer.” Which also was a reminder to Pippen that there were other guys at other positions who could score a little.

  1. jeffro33 - May 31, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    Kareem showing that he is still a voice of reason.

    It could be argued up and down that Wilt, Russell, and Kareem played in a different league that was certainly less athletic.

    But it can also be argued that LeBron (and Kobe, for this matter) play in a soft, tic-tac foul calling league. There was no such thing as a flagrant foul or suspensions for too many tech fouls with Jordan and before. The hits were harder and more frequent. Every team had a goon (some had 2 or 3) to make you think twice before driving to the basket.

    Do you think that LeBron would take it to the rack as much if he had Charles Oakley, Rick Mahorn, Bill Laimbeer, etc waiting to clobber him?

    Certainly, there would be more crying in the locker room….

    • sprest83 - May 31, 2011 at 5:16 PM

      People need to stop bringing up Wilt in discussions like this. Wilt played in a period when he was the only giant. It is quite stupid to even compare. Wilt was 7’1″ and the average center was 6’7″

      • ahemahem - May 31, 2011 at 6:27 PM

        So do we leave Shaq out because he outweighed other centers by 100lbs?

      • sprest83 - May 31, 2011 at 11:17 PM

        Doesnt compare. He was a giant in that time. Playing with midgets inflated his stats big time.

      • ahemahem - May 31, 2011 at 11:42 PM

        So was Shaq. And Russell gave Wilt a run.

      • sprest83 - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:13 AM

        Shaq? Played in modern times, most teams have a couple 7 footers on their team. The size difference in every position is much greater in modern times compared to the 60’s. The average height in modern nba is 6’7″ compared to wilt’s time 6’2″.

  2. zblott - May 31, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    In today’s NBA, Jordan could have scored 100. In Wilt’s NBA, Jordan could have scored 120 (remember that Wilt took 63 shots and 32 free throws).

    http://www.behindthebasket.com/btb/2010/10/15/of-course-michael-jordan-could-score-100-points.html

    • ahemahem - May 31, 2011 at 2:42 PM

      No way: Jordan would have to deal with something that was NEVER a problem for Wilt, that being shot blockers.

      • zblott - May 31, 2011 at 3:23 PM

        Career blocks
        1) Hakeem Olajuwon
        2) Dikembe Mutombo
        3) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
        4) Mark Eaton
        5) David Robinson
        6) Patrick Ewing
        7) Shaquille O’Neal
        8) Tree Rollins
        9) Tim Duncan
        10) Robert Parish
        11) Alonzo Mourning
        12) Marcus Camby
        13) Shawn Bradley

        Explain exactly how Jordan wasn’t dealing with shot blockers.

      • zblott - May 31, 2011 at 3:36 PM

        Top 5 league leaders in blocks since MJ left Chicago:
        1) 307 (Theo Ratfliff, 2004)
        2) 294 (Alonzo Mourning, 2000)
        3) 285 (Marcus Camby, 2008)
        4) 278 (Ben Wallace, 2002)
        5) 262 (Theo Ratliff, 2003)

        Top 5 league leaders in blocks during MJ’s Chicago days
        1) 456 (Mark Eaton, 1985)
        2) 397 (Manute Bol, 1986)
        3) 376 (Hakeem, 1990)
        4) 345 (Bol, 1989)
        5) 342 (Hakeem, 1993)

        If you’re going to say something that can be checked, try doing it before stating something blatantly wrong.

      • sprest83 - May 31, 2011 at 5:53 PM

        zblott clearly doesn’t read well.

      • ahemahem - May 31, 2011 at 6:29 PM

        True: zblott doesn’t get it that Wilt is the one who never had a problem with shot blockers.

    • rbrown4495 - May 31, 2011 at 2:51 PM

      Jordan aso said he might foul out in todays game before getting his 30+ points

      • zblott - May 31, 2011 at 3:24 PM

        Star scorers, especially SG/SF’s, don’t foul out in Stern’s NBA.

    • chiefagc5675 - Jun 4, 2011 at 2:43 PM

      Wilt didn’t have the advantage of the 3 pointer either. Baseball has the same problem- years ago when Mickey Mantle, Yogi and Babe Ruth held all the post-season records there was no
      league playoff- just a 4-7 game world series- then expansion- leading to watered down ability and drugs leading to false record breaking- and league playoffs being grouped in with World Series records- to me new stats mean nothing- let’s just count rings.

  3. mannyfresh209 - May 31, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Kareem is a moron. Lol

    • avermaver - Jun 4, 2011 at 12:07 AM

      Kareem played against Wilt and Jordan, he might actually know what he’s talking about. But no I’m sure your opinion is more informed.

  4. greenbaypackerbacker - May 31, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Awesome, so many times people lose site of all the old school players. Personally I feel that an all-star team of the old school NBA ballers in their prime would take an all-star cast of the new guys any day. To many of today’s players are about the flashy plays and being the guy that wins the game. The old guys would dominate them with passing, team work, and blood,sweat,and tears defense.

    Lets just see what happens to the heat when someone takes a game winning shot and misses it as a buzzer beater. If its D-Wade that misses everyone knows that Bron will be thinking “I could have made that shot”

    Don’t get me wrong MJ was good…. but far from the greatest to ever play the game that is a stretch.

    • hoopsmccann - Jun 7, 2011 at 1:08 PM

      Agreed. I recently pulled out some old videotapes of the Celtic / Lakers Finals in 84 and 85 and watched them. I was blown away at the speed, intensity, and tenaciousness that these players played with. It was as if each player had his entire family held hostage and they would be offed if their team lost the game. It was life or death. As great as MJ was he never had to play in the Finals against teams that competed like these two. The nineties was the weakest decade for the NBA of all the decades. Just look at the teams that the Bulls played in the six Finals they won. Other than the Bulls not one of them will ever be mentioned in the top 10 or even top 20 teams of all time. The only other really great team was the Rockets during their two championships and sadly, MJ and the Bulls never played them for a ring. However, Orlando did beat the Bulls with MJ in the Eastern Conference and that year the Rockets swept Orlando in the Finals.

  5. digitalpoo - May 31, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    It seems as if Kareem is trying just as hard as Pippen to insert himself into the media…

  6. passerby23 - May 31, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    Sorry, but Scottie Pippen’s analysis is a lot more accurate than this.

    1. Wilt did not play against anywhere near the level of athletic competition that Jordan did. The athleticism and physicality of today’s NBA player is much higher.

    2. Not to undermine Bill Russell’s skills, but there were 8 freakin’ teams in the league during his time! Beating 7 other teams to win a championship can’t be put on par with the level of competition today.

    3. I know it’s a “woulda, coulda, shoulda” argument, but Jordan’s 1 1/2 year absence probably cost the Bulls another two championships, and maybe more if Jerry Krause doesn’t break up the team after 1998. That would’ve been practically a decade straight up championships in TODAY’S competition.

    • 1historian - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:27 PM

      On the flight back from Utan in 1998 Jordan told Krause he was through and asked him to keep it to himself. (Krause honored that request.)
      Not long after the 6th parade Phil Jackson got on his new motorcycle and headed out to find the meaning of life.

      What’s left of the troika that won 6 titles? Scotty Pippen. He was around 33 at the time and – feet and back problems – he was damaged goods. Jackson is gone and Jordan is gone. Build a team around Scotty Pippen? Not gonna happen. In addition he wanted a long term big money contract. Not gonna happen. What did Krause do? Big money long term contract for Pippen in a sign-and-trade deal. with Houston. What did Pippen do after that? Nothing of any consequence.

  7. Ted - May 31, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    So many sports stars of the past 20 years are ignorant of their sport’s history, and can only speak from a limited contemporay perspective. as i recall, Jr Griffey gave an interview once, in his early years, and he had no idea who Willy Mays was.

    • fjortisar1 - Jun 1, 2011 at 6:00 PM

      You recalled wrong. Griffey wore #24 in honor of Willie Mays.

      Also his dad played baseball when Mays was around. I’m pretty sure Griffey knows all about baseball from that period.

    • thumper001 - Aug 27, 2011 at 7:40 AM

      This is bull. You have recalled wrong.

      Ken “The Kid” Griffey grew up in a major league dugout son. His daddy was Ken Griffey, of Cincinnati’s infamous Big Red Machine. The Kid (one of many dugout kids with the Big Red Machine) grew up around a whole slew of future Hall of Famers (both BRMs and visitors). In fact, his Dad’s first year in MLB was Willie “the Say Hey Kid” Mays’ last year (with the New York Mets). The Kid, though young, was around for the summer of 73 during the Say Hey Kid’s (informal) Farewell Tour taking place at National League parks all over America.

      Everybody loved Willie, man, well, except maybe Bowie Kuhn (but thats another story).

      NOTE: Ken Griffey, Sr.’s last 2 years in baseball were 1990-1, where he was teamates with his son for the Seattle Mariners. On 9/14/90, father and son hit back to back homers against the Kansas City Royals. Does it get any better than that? Baseball heritage ran deep in that family, what with so much talk about the 75-76 Big Red Machine given some consideration as one of the GOATs (though I personally despise that designation).

  8. dgforreal - May 31, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    That photo makes the letter more epic.

  9. SmackSaw - May 31, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    Kareem has a movie to promote.

    http://kareemabduljabbar.com/osg/

  10. trom1ram - May 31, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    First off: well written letter, Kareem. Your letter with facts is very-well taken. I know Scottie said somethings that would certainly trigger senses, let alone your senses. It’s good that the basketball family hears your opinion, not that you are passive. LeBron will tell you that he has never used his name and or that of MJs in the same sentence. He is great in his time, and the operative phrase there is “in his time,” and even then, without championship, and a “RING” especially, he does not have the voice. Let us see what this series will bring. If he wins the championship’s title then he will would have something to say. And even then, that would not quantify him accredited to that elite and prestgious class. Again, thanks for your wonderful letter. I read it out aloud and it sounded very well. I actually could not hear your voice because I really don’t know how your sound on paper.
    Thanks
    Ray

  11. jordinh - May 31, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    I like his attack on Scottie, but it was not what I was expecting. Just like tennis, football and any sport, you cant compare the different era’s because the sport has changes so much. More teams, more training and performance enhancing drugs, …etc.

    One thing is for sure, MJ is the most exciting and charismatic player ever. Glen Rice on Jordan during the play offs “Its hard to win on your home stadium your fans are cheering MJ every time he touches the ball” No other player can make that same claim.

    Depending on what you are looking for, scoring defense, whatever… there is no arguement that MJ is the most popular player ever however he did that. Kids in small villages in China knows who MJ is and that says alot.

  12. david8726 - May 31, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    I have a few problems with this letter.

    First of all, Kareem bases so much of his argument on per-game numbers.

    Per-game numbers really don’t hold much weight because back when Wilt and Russel played, the game was at a much faster pace so all stats were inflated compared to today. For example – Oscar Robertson wouldn’t have been able to average a triple double in todays NBA because the game is slower.

    Also, the league wasn’t nearly as big or athletic back then, so Russel and Wilt didn’t have a whole lot of opposition.

    Finally, the ring isn’t the thing. The number of championships does not trump all as Kareem seems to allude to. Bill Russel isn’t better than Michael Jordan just because he played on a stacked celtics team that was able to rip off 8 straight titles.

    • marcus158 - May 31, 2011 at 3:57 PM

      @David – You sound like the closest you got to watching Wilt is in YouTube video’s.

    • thumper001 - Aug 27, 2011 at 8:22 AM

      You obviously never saw the Big O up close and personal. Oscar could do whatever he needed to do, whenever he needed to do it, and against whomever he needed to do it against. He wasn’t a stat chaser at all (triple-doubles were the last thing on his mind). The Big O was just a flat winner, with a huge heart that never said DIE. A river may run through it, but in his day, the game of basketball ran through Oscar (and not vice versa). The Big O imposed his will on everybody. EVERYBODY. He wouldn’t have been one bit afraid of Jordan. He would have simply broken him down, and taken him, or fallen on his sword trying. And even if he fell once, he would have popped right back up, and gone at him again, at a different angle. That was the Big O.

      And Wilt wasn’t always this monster of a man many remember from his Laker days. When he first came up (with the Harlem Globetrotters before the NBA) he was skinny as a rail (Wilt the Stilt. Ever think about that nickname?) Wilt, in those days, was 4000 volts of high reflex, high coil muscle mass that is still unparalleled by anybody else I have ever seen play this game. And many think it was ONLY because he was a 7 foot+ tall freak of nature? Bollocks, his energy level, speed, power, and finesse (other than at the foul line, LOL) were unreal (even if he had been 6’5″, he would have ruled).

      Wilt in the late 1950s-early 1960s? I’d put him up against anybody, from any era, and like his chances to come out on top.

      But neither the Stilt nor Big O are fair protoypical comparisons to Jordan’s game. Somebody like Dr. J in his ABA days (it’s a shame now he spent his best years in the ABA); thats the better comparison to Jordan’s game (and much of Jordan’s slashing, angular floor game came directly from Dr. J, who cut unparalleled, breath-taking edges on the floor when he first came up. Dr. J bent the rules of gravity FIRST. Jordan followed and expanded on it).

      So this whole argument is BS, and an utter waste of time. I love them all really, and nothing ever gonna change that. I know what I saw, and have loved every minute of it when it’s done right.

  13. david8726 - May 31, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    Btw, Michael absolutely could score 100 points if he played in Wilt’s era.

    If Kobe Bryant could score 81 against modern defenses while playing in a slower paced NBA, Jordan could easily score 100 in the fast paced, no defense NBA of the 60s and 70s.

    • hnirobert3 - May 31, 2011 at 6:04 PM

      Old school basketball was much more slower paced than present day basketball.

      • david8726 - May 31, 2011 at 8:51 PM

        You’re wrong. Look at the numbers. The game was much faster in the old days.

      • mytthor - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:20 AM

        Game was faster in the 70’s and 80’s but not during Wilt’s prime.

      • Matthew Flint - Jun 1, 2011 at 9:10 AM

        There was no shot clock, they just would hold the ball with a lead

      • Matthew Flint - Jun 1, 2011 at 9:12 AM

        I stand corrected, looked it up and the shot clock was around for Wilt.

      • thumper001 - Aug 27, 2011 at 10:06 AM

        Sure; if you go back to the Hank Iba era of the early 50s, which was really a refined half-court game, more akin to tennis than what basketball was soon to become; a full-tilt boogie of full court aggressiveness where “offense begins on defense”. It was a more gentlemenly sport in the early 50s. You trotted back and took a defensive stance, while the offense walked the ball up court. Then, you changed sides…

        Not that there is anything wrong with the Xs and Os fundamentals taught by Hank; those still have a place even in today’s game. “Pick and roll” is as old as dirt, actually.

    • thumper001 - Aug 27, 2011 at 9:17 AM

      I seriously doubt that. Philadelphia took a lot of heat for allowing Wilt to dominate their offense so one-dimensionally that year (1962) he scored 100 in a game. Most NBA teams from that era would have never allowed such a thing to happen. In fact, in 1963, as the now San Francisco Warriors, they cut Chamberlain’s shot attempts by almost 1000 shots for the year. Wilt soon returned to the “new” Philadelphia 76ers soon after. Nice story though bro.

      No defense NBA in the 60s? hahahahaha. Bill Russell would like a few words with you son. Not only did they actively look at destroying offenses (which was the trademark of the Celtics), they even figued out ways to “accidently take out ” loudmouth fans spouting venomous BS from the front rows DURING the games. (as per an interview Russell gave with the Today show after his retirement).

      So, in your time travels, a word of advice: DUCK! LOL.

  14. hazebronso - May 31, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    The game is slower now!? – lol … i guess 48 minutes back then actually was 25 minutes …. i wonder how the earths rotation plays into that!!!

    • david8726 - May 31, 2011 at 3:34 PM

      There are fewer possessions in today’s NBA than in the 60s and 70s.

      When wilt played, teams took shots much earlier in the shot clock than they do today.

      More shots = more opportunities to score, rebound, and get assists.

      Do some research on the subject. The “super fast” phoenix suns of 3 or 4 years ago would have been considered a slow paced team back in the 60s.

  15. david8726 - May 31, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Here’s a quick example to illustrate the point, Hazebronso –

    In 2011, the LA Lakers took 6757 field goal attempts in the regular season. In 1961, the Lakers took 8401 field goal attempts.

    Teams just took way more shots back in that era, so that gave players more chances to compile statistics.

    • pudgalvin - May 31, 2011 at 6:41 PM

      Good call. Chamberlain took 1600 (!!!!!!) shots in ’61. Think about that. 1600. Derrick Rose took more shots than anyone this year, and he came in around 600. If Rose had managed to get up another 1000 shots, he’d probably have come in around 50 ppg too.

      • ahemahem - May 31, 2011 at 7:25 PM

        This is why I wrote that Wilt had no problem with shot blockers. Nobody else in history COULD take so many shots.

      • ahemahem - May 31, 2011 at 7:30 PM

        AND it was the pre-shot clock era.

      • david8726 - May 31, 2011 at 8:53 PM

        Wow, that’s an amazing stat. 1600 shots? Good god.

      • sprest83 - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:18 AM

        Well if you are playing with midgets, feed him the ball.

      • thumper001 - Aug 27, 2011 at 9:38 AM

        The year he scored a 100 in a game (1962), he took over 3000 shots for the year for the Philadelphia Warriors (3159 FGA to be exact, but at a .506 FG% rate).

        And it wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

        Offense may have ruled the league in the 60s, but defense won the titles (Celtics).

        And in regards to feeding him the ball around midgets; don’t confuse Wilt with George Mikan. There was much more to his game than just standing under the basket doing the Andre the Giant thing.

  16. fouldwimmerlaik - May 31, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    Let’s not forget Kobe, either. He is the best at everything. I am dressed in my Kobe pajamas right now so that I can be reminded of his greatness even in my sleep. Why didn’t Kareem mention Kobe? He is scared to! He knows if he brings up Kobe, the whole discussion is over!

    By the way, I am a Lakers fan.

    • ahemahem - May 31, 2011 at 7:23 PM

      I doubt that Kareem is scared of much.

  17. coltsfanindc - May 31, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    Dear Kareem,

    You are one of the greatest players in NBA history. Im only 30 so I missed most of your career but I do know it was great. Sir, you make some great, valid points. But do you honestly think being a scoring leader in 8 team league is better than being one w/ 30?

    • ahemahem - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:34 AM

      Yes-the talent pool was less diluted.

  18. coltsfanindc - May 31, 2011 at 8:35 PM

    and wouldnt you agree that athletes were bigger and fast in Jordans era compared to the 60s? Just asking

    • ahemahem - May 31, 2011 at 9:18 PM

      Not bigger and faster than Wilt. He was also a track star.

      • david8726 - May 31, 2011 at 10:20 PM

        Well sure, nobody but Shaq was as big and quick as wilt.

        But the league, on average, is much quicker and bigger today, and that would still result in Wilt not scoring at the ridiculous pace that he did when he played. There would be much more resistance to him today.

      • ahemahem - May 31, 2011 at 10:31 PM

        Shaq was no track star. Wilt was.

  19. diablito0402 - May 31, 2011 at 11:52 PM

    Damm kareem, when wilt played the average size player was 6’1″ back in the day. As said in earlier comments, i think jordan played in the toughest era. With all the hand checking and elbows waiting to greet anyone willing to drive in to the lane.

    • hoopsmccann - Jun 7, 2011 at 1:24 PM

      The ’90s was the toughest era?!? It was the weakest most diluted decade in the NBA. If it wasn’t for MJ the league would’ve went belly up. Name me just ONE top ten team of all time (other than the Bulls) that played in the 90s!

    • thumper001 - Aug 27, 2011 at 10:52 AM

      Do you really know anything at all about the career of Wilt Chamberlain other than looking at banal statistic sheets? Absense of knowledge is not a good basis for crowning a victor in anything. Seriously.

      HELL, the thing about Wilt that everybody knew was to beat him you had to put him on the free throw line (remember the granny shots he made famous). That included outright tackling him. Handchecking? hahahahaha. Wilt would have thrived in that environment. The only way to beat him in his prime was to foul him. HARD. He may have been the WORST free throw shooter of all time. If not for that, he may well have scored over 150 points in a game. LOL. Even in the “3 to make 2″ era, Wilt threw up more bricks than a stone mason on steroids.

      Did you also know the reason he quit college ball at Kansas after his junior year, was because people were tackling him around the waist whenever he touched the ball, taking him to the floor HARD? And the NCAA would do nothing about it. The man took probably the hardest beatings of any player in NCAA and NBA history. (even putting aside, the severely unsightly racial attacks on Kansas players everywhere they went because Chamberlain was “colored”. Folks forget that).

      Handchecking? hahahahahha. You can’t be serious….

  20. dbick - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:06 AM

    If you really think Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell are better than Michael Jordan, you have problems.

  21. crazyguy358 - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    jefro kobe was in jordans time and was alright. and then 81 point good lebron no but i see what you ment also what kareem said he was a great scorer to number one on the list (kobe 5 or 4th) also micheal second but lebron nothing but he still good and wilt and bill russel also good but it was the i dont think 24 sec vio exist back then so duh someone get so much but even though he was still a great

    • progress2011 - Jun 1, 2011 at 9:59 PM

      crazy guy, I attempted to read your post twice. I don’t care if a person has perfect grammar or spelling….BUT your post is not effective because a “literate” reader cannot figure out what the flock you are saying !!!

  22. ernestbynershands - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    I don’t ever read this column. Kareem’s letter was well worth my time. But, I would add a couple of additional points.
    Expanding comparisons:
    Movie credits:
    Airplane Vs. Space Jam
    The Goggles
    The sky hook Vs. The dunk.
    Oh yeah, as Kareem mentioned, all-time leading scorer.
    Kareem was too humble to include another all-time great in the discussion.
    By theway, what is Kareem’s ring count?
    Nice work Kareem.

    • callenr - Jun 1, 2011 at 11:45 AM

      Kareem sounds really stupid right now… I mean no disrespect because he is a pioneer in the game and the leading scorer all time… but… there is no way that you can say that Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain is the best player to ever play the game. First to Russell, rings aren’t everything, Sam Jones has 10… do people consider him a great? Bill was picked up by a great team who made a trade for him, they had the 2nd best record the year before and made a trade (meaning they were already a pretty good team). Secondly, his career average is only 15.1 ppg, so in an age where the numbers were so much higher and there were so many more shots taken, its obvious to see that he wasn’t the 1st or even 2nd scoring option on the team. As far as rebounding, you can’t argue that he wasn’t great, but then again, there were also way more shot being taken, so way more misses, so way more opportunities to rebound.

      As far as Wilt, he was the most dominant in the span of 1959-1966 but after that… ehhh… pretty good. When you look at his record breaking numbers, the thing that is so different in his numbers would be the staggering amount of shots he took in a season. The season he averaged 50.4 ppg he took 3,159 shots!? Only shooting 50%! The most shots MJ ever took in a season is 2,279 when he averaged 37.1 ppg. It was a different game back then. It was bully-ball, give the ball to the only guy on the court above 6’8” and have him either make the shot or get fouled.

      You can’t compare rebounding of a Center to a Shooting Guard as well… I respect you Kareem, but in no way, shape or form is any of the players you listed better than MJ and for that matter any player ever. The charisma, the drive, the clutch, the heart, the passion, the name, and the game… Greatest of ALL-TIME… Michael Jeffery Jordan…

      -CReese

    • chicago240 - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:35 PM

      And you can’t overlook Kareem fighting Bruce Lee in Game of Death. The movie nod has to go to Kareem.

  23. pdoggscratching - Jun 1, 2011 at 7:09 AM

    When it comes to historical comparisons is scoring greatness simply about the numbers next to a name? Are we that gullible? Surely not :)

  24. robertallen1958 - Jun 2, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    if your discussing the greatest player of all time, the hands down there is only one, his records speak for themselves, he is modest as in the letter he never mentioned himself which in these times, the “me” times. its easy the greatest basketball ever to set foot on a court Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
    When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar left the game in 1989 at age 42, no NBA player had ever scored more points, blocked more shots, won more MVP awards, played in more All-Star Games, or logged more seasons. His list of personal and team accomplishments is perhaps the most awesome in league history: Rookie of the Year, member of six NBA championship teams, six-time NBA MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 19-time All-Star, two-time scoring champ, and a member of the NBA 35th and 50th Anniversary All-Time Teams. nuff said…..

  25. willhnic - Jun 5, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    I have to jump in. Some of the statements and corresponding “likes” for the comments show a large bias against Jordan. I am huge Jordan fan, but like to speakt to facts and ensure the right context is asserted to have a good conversation.

    1. I agree that Wilt Chamberlain may have been the most dominant scorer for his first 7 years. He averaged over 35 ppg. However, his career average is exactly the same as Jordan’s. What does this mean…it means Jordan was more consistent over his career in scoring for his team. He kept dominating AFTER his first 7 years vs. Wilt, who dropped almost by an average of 10pts per game after his first 7 years…only dominated because he was tall…once the league caught up…he was good…but not great. We saw the same thing happen to Shaq. Look up Wilt’s stats…this is fact.

    2. Ring count matters, but you have to use context. Bill Russel was an awesomen player and leader on the court. But his main contribution was rebounds. He was a tremendous rebounder. That was it…a great rebounder who also helped a great team win championships. He is not and should not be in the discussion for greatest player. It’s almost like saying Rodman should be a part of great player discussion because of the rebounds he pulled down for Chicago. I think this is an over-reach here.

    3. As for the Lebron vs. Jordan comparison, just look up their stats at how they both were performing by age 26 in the league. (great article here http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoopmiamiheat/post/_/id/8143/mj-vs-lebron-what-the-stats-say)
    Jordan averaged 31 ppg vs. Lebron at 27 ppg in the regular season. In the playoffs, Jordan averaged 32ppg vs. Lebron at 27ppg. I have watched both eras…no comparison for me. Jordan is a greater scorer and player hands down. However, I get that Lebron is a better rebounder. But HE SHOULD BE. He is 6′ 10″. Not taking away from him, just saying he isn’t that great at either. He is good. Jordan at 6′ 6″ was amazing at guarding anyone from guard to shooting forward. He wasn’t as strong as Lebron but his mental toughness was amazing.

    4. The argument about 7 teams vs. 30 teams in regular season is ridiculous. I have played competitive ball and playing more skilled players night after night shows mental toughness, athletic skill and acumen, and diverse competitiion that dictates you find different ways to win each night. Playing 30 teams is hands down much more difficult to prepare for mentally and physically. Playing only 7 teams is like playing your big brother every day. You learn their weaknesses and strengths much easier, where you can exploit and defend against over time.

    5. Ok. Now let’s talk about when it counts. Wilt averaged 22.5ppg lifetime in the playoffs. Jordan averaged 33.4ppg lifetime. I think Kareem needs to recheck what is means to be a scorer. A great scorer is consistent and wins. That is the context I use. Given they both played 16 seasons…Jordan is the greatest scorer, the greatest player to play the game.

    In my opinion, Jordan is the greatest. The statistics prove it.

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