When it comes to discussing and evaluating who may be the greatest player of all-time, the Los Angeles Lakers are represented more times than not. However, it’s primarily with Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant, both of whom spent their entire NBA careers with the franchise.
Seemingly left out on the periphery is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, among others. He broke into the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks and immediately became an All-Star. Abdul-Jabbar spent more seasons with the Lakers than Bucks (14 seasons compared to six) and ultimately won six championships.
He resides as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points. Because of being passed by LeBron James this year, Abdul-Jabbar is seventh on the all-time NBA Finals scoring list.
While he is regularly overlooked in the discussion, Abdul-Jabbar isn’t bothered by that, nor does he believe a consensus will ever be established on who the greatest player of all-time is, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
“These G.O.A.T. discussions are fun distractions while sitting around waiting for the pizza to be served,” Abdul-Jabbar told The Undefeated. “But they’re on a par with ‘Which super power 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 G.O.A.T. 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.”
While public opinion might not match it, Byron Scott recently identified his former teammate as the greatest of all-time. Scott mentioned Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook making him ‘unguardable,’ and alluded some of his other personal accolades as support for the argument.
Though he may not be recognized as the game’s best player, the impact Abdul-Jabbar had on and off the court, and his continued actions and initiatives since retiring, can’t be understated.