Tupac and Nas may have written the greatest diss songs ever, but nothing tops Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writing an open letter to Wilt Chamberlain.
Kareem was long viewed as a hubristic basketball player with no personality off the court. A major reason why he was viewed as such was his rather brusque attitude towards sports journalists.
Their inability to get through to him and incite headline-worthy responses made him an easy media target. And thus, for many years during Kareem’s peak, he was exposed to some undeserved ridicule and criticism.
Many decades have since passed and the NBA has long moved on from the era of the Showtime Lakers. This passage of time has allowed fans to view The Captain in a much more favorable light. We’ve come to recognize his dominance and sustained excellence a lot more.
Given that the status quo was so against him, it is noteworthy that Kareem kept his cool through all the years of disparaging comments from the likes of Wilt Chamberlain. However, one year after his retirement, he found it fit to deliver a damning indictment of Wilt’s pettiness.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote an open letter dissing Wilt Chamberlain after retiring from the Lakers
Kareem wrote an open letter on the Los Angeles Times titled ‘An Open Letter to Wilt Chumperlame’ – a not-so-subtle dig at the man who was basketball’s first ‘superstar’, so to speak.
Through the course of this letter, Kareem poured his heart and true feelings out about how Wilt had engineered a campaign to downplay his sporting excellence over the years. He took all-out swipes at Wilt’s legacy, some of which read thus:
“In professional basketball, Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics gave you a yearly lesson in real competitive competence and teamwork. All you could say was that your teammates stunk and that you had done all you could, and besides, the refs never gave you a break. Poor Wilt.”
“You came out to L.A. and got with a dream team. The only lack that team had was leadership at the center position. Bill and the Celts took one from you in ’69, and the Knicks followed suit in ’70.”
“People are still trying to figure out where you disappeared to in that series. True to form, after the Knicks beat the Lakers in the world championship in 1973, you quit and haven’t been seen on the court since.”
Kareem’s all-out diss was the 1990s equivalent of peak Kevin Durant Twitter. It allowed him to swing the narrative back in his own direction and take control of his legacy.