Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Ends NBA’s GOAT Debate

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

To settle the NBA GOAT debate, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar turned to an action hero who hit the big screen in the twilight of his career.

The Hall of Fame center has more points than anyone else in the history of the game, more rebounds than all but three players, and more blocks than all but two, even though the league didn’t track that last stat until his fifth season.

And despite such a strong claim to the GOAT (that’s “greatest of all time”) throne, he’s unwilling to give himself the title.

“The reason there is no such thing as the GOAT is because every player plays under unique circumstances,” Abdul-Jabbar told The Undefeated this week. “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.”

But the sky hooker’s stance doesn’t mean he fails to see the value of the never-ending argument. 

“These GOAT discussions are fun distractions while sitting around waiting for the pizza to be served,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “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.”

Stars of yore all too often can’t wait to tell you how much “better” the game was in their day.

Remember the cavalcade of players coming out of the woodwork to label the Warriors overrated early in their dynastic run?

Leave it to the exceedingly thoughtful and tall Abdul-Jabbar to acknowledge the nuance of what’s really an undeterminable debate.