In case anyone was wondering, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is still an insufferable narcissist. His unwavering desire to put himself in the news any time he sees an opening makes him an ideal candidate for a VH1 reality TV show, but completely unbearable in every other possible way.
Last week, Scottie Pippen made headlines when he suggested that although Michael Jordan might have been the greatest scorer of all time, LeBron James could eventually become the greatest player. This take, understandably, was met with nearly universal criticism.
Every ESPN talking head, every desperate-for-attention ex-basketball star and every hoops fan with a Twitter account felt the need to disparage Pippen for his comments.
Fine, so be it.
After a few days, thankfully, the issue died. As quickly as it lit up the headlines, it mercifully disappeared up into stupid story heaven.
Or so we thought.
Enter: A certain sky-hooking Lakers Hall of Famer with no statue because, really, despite all of his accomplishments, nobody likes him all that much.
For whatever reason, Abdul-Jabbar decided to write a letter to Pippen regarding his comments last week. In this letter, the league’s all-time scoring leader politely scolds Pippen for his lack of basketball knowledge, reminds him of the greatness of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, and, of course, closes things out by signing it, “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer.”
You know, just in case anyone forgot that he was the league’s all-time leading scorer. That last bit, if nothing else, simply re-affirms just how weird Abdul-Jabbar truly is. How desperate he is for any bit of recognition, when the truth is, all NBA fans universally recognize him as one of the faces that belongs on the Mount Rushmore of basketball.
Kareem’s sole mission in life appears to be proving that brilliance on the court does not translate into brilliance off it.
Check out the entire letter, courtesy of Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times, below:
How Soon They Forget: An Open Letter to Scottie Pippen
I have nothing but respect for you my friend as an athlete and knowledgeable basketball mind. But you are way off in your assessment of who is the greatest player of all time and the greatest scorer of all time. Your comments are off because of your limited perspective. You obviously never saw Wilt Chamberlain play who undoubtedly was the greatest scorer this game has ever known. When did MJ ever average 50.4 points per game plus 25.7 rebounds? (Wilt in the 1962 season when blocked shot statistics were not kept). We will never accurately know how many shots Wilt blocked. Oh, by the way in 1967 and 68, Wilt was a league leader in assists. Did MJ ever score 100 points in a game? How many times did MJ score more than 60 points in a game? MJ led the league in scoring in consecutive seasons for 10 years but he did this in an NBA that eventually expanded into 30 teams vs. when Wilt played and there were only 8 teams.
Every team had the opportunity to amass a solid nucleus. Only the cream of the basketball world got to play then. So MJ has to be appraised in perspective. His incredible athletic ability, charisma and leadership on the court helped to make basketball popular around the world -- no question about that. But in terms of greatness, MJ has to take a backseat to The Stilt.
In terms of winning, Michael excelled as both an emotional and scoring leader but Bill Russell’s Celtics won eight consecutive NBA Championships. Bill's rebounding average per game is over 22.5 lifetime, MJs best rebounding years was eight per game (1989). But we will never know exactly how many shots Bill Russell blocked because again, they never kept that statistic while he played. However, if you ask anybody that played against Russell, they will just roll their eyes and say he blocked all the shots he wanted to block in the crucial moments of a game.
Bill played on a total of 11 championship teams and as you very well know, Scottie, the ring is the thing, and everything else is just statistics. So I would advise you to do a little homework before crowning Michael or LeBron with the title of best ever. As dominant as he is, LeBron has yet to win a championship. I must say that it looks like Miami has finally put the team together that will change that circumstance. Its my hope that today’s players get a better perspective on exactly what has been done in this league in the days of yore.
NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer