Last month, LeBron James made waves across the NBA by naming four players to his all-time NBA Mount Rushmore: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. He also said that when his career is over, he’s going to be on that list.
Six-time NBA MVP and Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took exception to his omission from James’ list in a new interview with the Los Angeles Daily News, saying the Miami Heat superstar needs a stronger perspective on the game’s history.
“LeBron James was talking about how he’s the best ever. He never saw Wilt Chamberlain play. If he had, he wouldn’t say that. Whenever he averages 55 points a game, then I might want to listen to what he has to say,” Abdul-Jabbar said.
“I’m not trying to put LeBron down. He’s awesome. He’s the best player in this era at this point. But he didn’t see Bill Russell play. When his team wins eight consecutive NBA championships, maybe I’ll compare him to Bill Russell. Until then, he has to prove a few things. I don’t want to put LeBron down. He’s awesome and great for the game and a class guy. But there’s a lot more to that.”
James’ resume includes two NBA championships, two Final MVP awards, four regular-season MVPS, 10 All-Star appearances, seven All-NBA first-team selections and five appearances on the NBA All-Defensive first team. But that pales to Russell’s 11 NBA titles, five MVPs, 12 All-Star appearances.
Meanwhile, Chamberlain won two NBA championships and holds numerous scoring records. That includes most points scored in a game (100 on March 2, 1962 with the Philadelphia 76ers against the New York Knicks), most consecutive field goals (18) and most rebounds (55). He also became the only player to average 50 points in a season (1961-62), while racking up four MVP awards and spawning rule changes that entailed widening the lane and enforcing offensive goaltending.
Russell played for the Celtics during a time there lacked much parity in the NBA. Chamberlain played for the 76ers and Lakers during a time big men came at a premium. Still, Abdul-Jabbar expressed skepticism on how James would’ve adjusted to the older NBA.
“What if LeBron had to guard Elgin Baylor? I don’t know if LeBron would’ve had a good night that night. Those days, you could handcheck and the game was more physical. Now you can’t do those things and you can dribble the ball like this now, said Abdul-Jabbar said. “We couldn’t do that. It was a more difficult game to play. I don’t think he gets it in terms of the great athletes that have played this game.”
Abdul-Jabbar ticked off a litany of names, including Russell, Chamberlain, Robertson, Baylor, Jerry West, Earl Monroe, Dave Bing and Gus Johnson before revealing “it will never be determined” who truly belongs on the Mt. Rushmore.
“It’s impossible to judge over the generations. Every ten years you should have rank a 10-year team,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “I guess that’s why they have sports bars so people can argue about this kind of stuff. You’re not going to resolve it.”
Abdul-Jabbar has set history by remaining the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, perfecting the unstoppable skyhook and becoming the lone NBA player to compile both six NBA championships and six MVPs through a 20-year span with the Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers.
Jabbar was a record 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA selection, and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member.
In 1996, he was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Abdul-Jabbar played 1560 games in the NBA, averaging 24.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg in 36.8 mpg.Follow @exnbadotcom
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