The GOAT debate is one that transcends era, one that requires analysts and fans to traverse the history of the sport, dig up statistics, video clips and the make a fair judgement of who they think is the greatest of all time.
Or they could simply follow the bandwagon, ignore a large part of basketball history and form a judgement for themselves based on limited knowledge.
A lot of the NBA fans fall in the category of ‘ignorance is bliss’, as they don’t really take into account the history of the NBA and how players before Michael Jordan’s era fared.
One such name that is often forgotten or least talked about is the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who in his time would have been the top contender for the tag of the GOAT.
Here's an interesting Kareem Abdul-Jabbar interview where he talks about GOAT arguments being fun but ultimately pointless. https://t.co/MsRjSIuwJv
— orobokibo (@Sick_Sage) September 6, 2018
Brief but great interview with an inspirational man! Hey @MARCJSPEARSESPN, is there a longer/full version of the interview that I can find?
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the GOAT debate, his upcoming speaking tour and LeBron joining the Lakers https://t.co/wL1YMZDbui
— Crazy Horse (@Scrumhalf1) July 31, 2018
However, with technological advancement and the game becoming more accessible to people all around the globe, those who played before the ‘TV/social media era’ are often less talked about, for no fault of the fans actually.
It’s just that because less footage is available and less people currently have seen that player play in front of their eyes, they cannot really relate to him.
Who knows, maybe Jordan and LeBron won’t be household names 50 years from now.
Thus, with respect to these shifting eras and improvements in TV broadcasting and information transmission, Kareem Abdul Jabbar feels that it is unfair to compare players from different eras.
“These GOAT discussions are fun distractions while sitting around waiting for the pizza to be served,” Abdul-Jabbar said as quoted by Undefeated.
“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.” he added.
— Kobe-Wan KeNoPass (@Kobes_Lakers) January 7, 2019
AHS girls are about to start the 2nd half. They lead 36-19 over Glenvar. Mountaineers have made 7 threes, which is 6 more than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had in this entire career. pic.twitter.com/45XURefcbQ
— Alleghany Boys Tennis (@boystenniscoach) January 8, 2019
Abdul-Jabbar went onto highlight how every player played under different circumstances and hence it would be unfair to compare them in any sort of way.
“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.” he said.
“Every player has to adapt to their circumstances and find a way to excel. This isn’t Highlander. There can be more than one.” he added.
The skill sets have evolved with players becoming fitter and recovery times getting smaller. Abdul-Jabbar could have had better statistics if he would have played in this era and maybe could have had a stronger claim to the title of the GOAT.
Thus GOAT discussions are possible only upto a certain extent and shouldn’t be taken as the holy grail for determining who the greatest person to have graced out sport is.
Kareem had also commented on LeBron joining the Lakers and how he could help a decaying team get back to life.
“LeBron is one of the most dynamic and charismatic players in the history of the NBA. He isn’t just a great player, he’s a great showman.” he said.
“It’s no secret that the Lakers have been struggling these past few years to find their rhythm and maturity in order to be serious contenders. LeBron could be the right man to bring the team together.” he added.