There are very few debates in sports that can cause more heated arguments than that of the greatest player of all-time. Whether someone has Michael Jordan, or one of many Los Angeles Lakers legends such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Magic Johnson, people will argue vehemently as to why that person is at the top and just as passionately about why someone else isn’t.
The difficulty in truly determining the GOAT lies in the fact that there are so many variables and changes to the game over time. Those who dominated in the 1960s and 70s had different circumstances than those in the 80s and 90s, who dealt with nothing like those playing today. There is no real way to measure these kinds of things which leaves it up to the interpretation of each individual.
It is because of this that Abdul-Jabbar believes it is impossible to truly answer the question of who is the greatest player ever. In an interview with NBA reporter Marc Stein, Kareem says that while the debate is fun to have, there are just too many variables:
GOAT discussions are fun, like debating who’s faster: Superman or the Flash. It’s a metaphysical mystery. The question can never be answered because players from the past were trained under different restrictions and played under different rules. Then you have to ask what to give more weight to: Scoring, defense, assists? All of them? But the stats don’t always reveal the particular conditions and challenges of each season. Way too many variables. How about we just discuss the O’GOAT (One of the Greatest of All-Time)?
Kareem has always been one of the most intelligent and well-spoken players in the history of this league and it is hard to disagree with his take on this subject. There is no set criteria to judge this off and basketball has changed so much that it is almost a completely different game than what was played 50 years ago.
The names involved in the discussion tend to be the same and every so often another legendary player can thrust his name into that list. The fact that there’s no criteria makes it impossible to come to a final conclusion, but that is exactly what makes the debates so fun and heated in the first place.
Abdul-Jabbar excited for James to break scoring record
Of course, two of the most prominent names in the GOAT debate are James and Abdul-Jabbar himself and one of the biggest arguments for Kareem is the fact that he remains the league’s all-time leading scorer by a pretty wide margin.
But LeBron is creeping up towards potentially breaking that record and Kareem is happy to see it happen. The Lakers legend says he is excited to see James pass him and will be right there cheering him on when it does.
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