Former Detroit Pistons guard, when asked about who he thinks the greatest NBA player of all-time is, mentioned a Los Angeles Lakers player
The greatest of all-time conversation in the NBA these days is fueled primarily by The Last Dance, which states the case for Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan. Los Angeles Lakers fans obviously have something to say about that.
“There’s no person in the history of our sport, from grade school to high school to college to the NBA [that] has had a better basketball playing career than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And then when you take into account what he stood for in terms of social justice, during that period of time, you know, the stance he took outside of the playing field, you know, those are big things in my mind in terms of what the GOAT was,” Isiah Thomas said on Inside the Green Room with Danny Green and Harrison Sanford.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s accolades speak for themselves. A Hall of Famer, Rookie of the Year, MVP, Finals MVP, and 19-time All-Star (among others), you can’t tell NBA history without speaking of Abdul-Jabbar.
He averaged 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game over the course of a 20-year career with the Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers. His 38,387 points sit atop the all-time regular-season points leaderboard, 4,300 in front of the next active player (also a Laker, LeBron James). He sits at third in career blocks behind Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutumbo, having led the league in blocks in four different seasons.
Bryant and Abdul-Jabbar are one and two for games played in a Lakers uniform.
Thomas referenced Abdul-Jabbar’s stance on socially-charged items, which is admirable. Abdul-Jabbar changed his name, leaving behind a name that was given to his lineage by a slave plantation owner and is outspoken about his conversion to Islam.
For Thomas, his dominance over multiple levels of the game is what’s most important.
“When I look at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s six championships, what, six or seven MVPs, scored the most point [of] anybody in the NBA, lost one game in college, lost one game in high school, and didn’t lose in grade school.”
Choosing just one representative from the Lakers for the GOAT conversation is an arduous task because there are so many great options.
Magic Johnson is arguably the game’s greatest point guard of all-time. Wilt Chamberlain’s pro reputation is practically mythological. While James’s story with the Lakers is just getting started, his career accomplishments with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat have positioned him as a strong bid for the conversation as well.
Next time you have the GOAT debate, consider Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.