The one and only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA All-Time Leading Scorer (a fact his own mail signature helpfully points out), penned an open letter directed to fellow Top-50 NBA player Scottie Pippen over his remarks last week concerning LeBron James one day possibly, maybe, could be just a teeny-weeny bit better than fellow teammate Michael Jordan. The letter was obtained by the Los Angeles Times and is reprinted below:
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....
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).... 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
This is the problem when we start comparing legends to each other and trying to figure out a way to somehow rank greatness. But with sports there will always be debates and differences in opinion and that's what also makes it fun. Having former players like Pippen and Kareem putting their educated opinions forward to the national debate only makes it juicier. All the talk ultimately is premature because LeBron is only now entering his prime at the ripe age of 26 so there still is plenty of basketball left in him. While fading players like Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are entering the twilight of their illustrious careers, there are many other young and hungry superstars in this league that will have Hall Of Fame careers and have something to say as well.
For the fan, the present is more vivid and memorable. ESPN, YouTube and Twitter help re-live any of it in a flash. The generation gap between these NBA stars is not lost on the older fans and players who remember how dominant their legends were in their prime. Unfortunately, only in video games can the fantasy of these players duking it out head-to-head for final supremacy be played out. So the verbal discourse continues on.