Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the most important players in NBA history.Not only did he win six championships, six MVPS, and retire as the league’s all-time leading scorer, but the Los Angeles Lakers legend has also positioned himself as one of the most politically, socially, and culturally active professional athletes of all time.In a league environment that still gives voice to many prominent former players, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s booms louder than any — save the possible exception of on-court foe, off-court friend Bill Russell’s.In an article published at Newsweek, Abdul-Jabbar offered his thoughts on LeBron James’ recent comments that he’s the greatest player of all time.Rather than directly disagreeing with that statement like so many other retirees, Abdul-Jabbar instead explained the necessary nuance behind any greatest-of-all-time debate.He also acknowledged that it’s what James has done off the floor that matters most.“It’s a little disappointing hearing him play this imaginary game, which is akin to asking, Which superpower is better, flying or invisibility?” Abdul-Jabbar writes.“I get asked this question a couple times a week, and my answer is always the same: The game has changed so much over the years that there is no leveling rubric to take into account the variables.So, sorry, LeBron, you’re not the GOAT because it’s a mythological beast.It’s like asking, How big is the horn on a unicorn? “But LeBron James is the hero this generation has thrown up the pop chart.It’s a place he clearly has earned, and we are all better off for him being there.” Earlier in the article, Abdul-Jabbar lauds James for his refusal to “Shut up and dribble,” instead inspiring an entire generation of professional athletes to use their platform to make a social, cultural and political change.Abdul-Jabbar also mentions the school James helped open in his hometown of Akron, OH, a charter serving underprivileged students that provides them and their families with additional means of support.Is James the greatest basketball player of all time? To Abdul-Jabbar, that question is a non-starter, and ultimately doesn’t matter nearly as much as what James does as a person.
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