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Why Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Has A Great Case Over Michael Jordan As The Greatest Of All Time


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#1 OFFLINE   The Future

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 07:19 AM

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Welcome back to the "Best Ever" series, as I'll continue to make a case for a certain legend as arguably the greatest player to ever play in the NBA.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Lakers and Bucks' legendary center, will be the all time great for whom I'll focus on in this article. He was a valuable big man that ruled the league for at least 15 years and displayed his greatness consistently.

Kareem is certainly without any doubt a proven legend. Without any further ado, here are my reasons why Jabbar can be argued as the best player of all time.




1. Longevity
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Few players can reach a level that kept him in the debate of the best player of the league at any point of their careers. However, to keep themselves for at least 15 years on that level is just amazing.

All of these makes Kareem Abdul Jabbar's longevity arguably second to none. He came as ready as arguably few have ever had with all the physical tools, skills, fundamentals and basketball IQ which made him ahead of his time in the NBA, even then.

Kareem took the league by storm in his rookie year, consistently improved, added to his game and kept dominating while being in the discussions for the best player for quite a while.

He made his impact felt, was the strength of his teams which were mostly at the top of the league etc. The statistics back that up and the multiple achievements just prove the previous.

Few players who played around 20 seasons managed to get called in many All-Star Games nor or maintained Abdul-Jabbar's greatness for that period of time.




2. Offense
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was excellent in many aspects of the game, but few were as good as him on offense. He was arguably the greatest offensive force in NBA History.

He had all of the tools to excel offensively. Kareem's physicality was on pair with anyone's from any period, was skilled, had an arsenal of moves to score, relied on both finesse and power etc. In other words, he was a monster.

Abdul Jabbar possessed the best go to move of all time in the sky hook, a shot he mastered and used to destroy opposing defenses. This forced his opponents to consistently throw many double, even triple teams while playing him extremely tough.

Like most of the top scorers, Jabbar could score in high volume. However, what set him in arguably a class of his in terms of scoring, was his incredible consistency, superb efficiency and production in team level.

This is why he's got a respectable case for the honor of top scorer ever. Additionally, Kareem was terrific playmaker and involved his teammates just fine.

Overall, he was arguably in a class of his own in this regard.




3. Dominance
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Although the term "dominance" isn't as mentioned to his legacy as in the cases of O'Neal, Chamberlain, Jordan etc, it doesn't mean that Kareem was behind in that regard. He was arguably the most dominant force in NBA History.

Jabbar possessed all the needed tools to dominate. He had an excellent combination of size, strength, athleticism and mobility which combined quite well with his skills that made him nearly equally dominant presence on both sides of the court.

On offense, he'd get the easy points in a variety of ways. He'd score with ease and was literally unguardable. If you double teamed, he'd make the double team pay with his great passing.

Abdul-Jabbar was an efficient scorer at inside the paint, despite him being heavily guarded. He used his gifts to establish as an effective presence on the other side of the court.

He was literally close to unstoppable in his peak, which was around from '77-'82, as his teammates and peers rated him his '77 season as his personal finest. He rose to the occasion, posted huge numbers, absolutely dominated and won it all during that time.

Here're some stats that prove Kareem's dominance.

'77 Western Conference Semifinals (against young Robert Parish)
37.6 ppg, 18.7 rpg, 3.3 bpg on 60.7% FG

'77 Western Conference Finals (against Bill Walton)
30.3 ppg, 16.0 rpg, 3.8 bpg on 60.8% FG

'79 Western Conference Semifinals (against Jack Sigma)
28.8 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 57.7% FG (this stat isn't completed, so it's around that number)

'80 Western Conference Finals (against the Sonics)
30.6 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 57.7% FG (again, stat isn't complete)

'80 Finals (against Philly)
33.4 ppg, 13.6 rpg, 4.6 bpg, 3.2 apg on 54.9% FG

These are indeed amazing efforts by Jabbar, who in his peak was arguably the most dominant and unstoppable player of any time.




4. Two Way Player
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There were many outstanding two way players in the NBA History of the caliber that Jordan, Olajuwon, West etc are but none of them had more complete two way package than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

He excelled on offense like arguably no one ever did. Kareem was an elite offensive low post player as few have seen. He had a variety of ways to score, with his go to move, the sky hook being the deadliest of them. Also, he was a terrific passer as well.

Jabbar was consistently among the leaders in points, won two scoring crowns and led five times in the playoffs too. He retired as the NBA all time leader in both regular and post season. He remained No.1 in the first.

Additionally, Abdul-Jabbar was outstanding defensively. He was terrific in all the aspects on defense. The Captain was superb in terms of stopping his man, as he usually held his opponent below his averages and was an amazing presence inside.

For that, the block shots speak for themselves. The Cap retired as the league's all time leader in blocks in both the regular season and the playoffs. In his Bucks day, he managed to make his team the best defensively, despite him being the only All-NBA defender.

There wasn't a Defensive Player Of The Year award, but had there been, he'd have won a few of them. Kareem was great on the glass as well. He won one rebounding title and was always above his normal when it mattered most.

Abdul-Jabbar was on a top level, thanks to his combination of athletic advantages, skills and intelligence. All of the previous speaks for his excellence.





5. Unstoppable
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When you're a 7'4 big man who's got a rare combination of size, athleticism, strength and mobility combined with a great skill set and you have high basketball IQ plus an unstoppable go to move, you've got all the tools to be an unstoppable force.

That was exactly Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was, especially in his peak. For dozens of years, he destroyed his opponents in the paint, was a terrific presence on the glass, was superb defensively consistently and did everything well on top level.

Kareem was unstoppable in the low post offensively due to his physicality, skills and offensive arsenal that allowed him to score at will over his defenders. Despite getting heavy attention from the defense, he still scored at high volume and efficiency.

A proof for that are the two most productive 30+ points seasons ever. There're more. Jabbar retired as the league's all time leader in scoring during both regular and post season while leading multiple teams in this aspect. He remained No.1 in the first.

What made him so tough to stop was his sky hook, a go to move few blocked in his best days. Here are more Abdul-Jabbar stats against an elite competition.

'77 Western Conference Semifinals (against young Robert Parish)
37.6 ppg, 18.7 rpg, 3.3 bpg on 60.7% FG

'77 Western Conference Finals (against Bill Walton)
30.3 ppg, 16.0 rpg, 3.8 bpg on 60.8% FG

'79 Western Conference Semifinals (against Jack Sigma)
28.8 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 57.7% FG (this stat isn't completed, so it's around that number)

'80 Western Conference Finals (against the Sonics)
30.6 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 57.7% FG (again, stat isn't complete)

'80 Finals (against Philly)
33.4 ppg, 13.6 rpg, 4.6 bpg, 3.2 apg on 54.9% FG

Indeed, these were among the other outstanding efforts from the Captain. He was truly amazing.





6. Top Clutch Performer
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar always elevated himself on the highest stage when it mattered most. He was among the top clutch performers with a respectable case for the first spot. Here're some stats.

---Regular Season: 24.6 points, 11.2 boards, 3.6 assists, 2.6 blocks, 55.9% field goal percentage
-------Post Season: 24.3 points, 10.5 boards, 3.2 assists, 2.4 blocks, 53.3% field goal percentage
-------Game Seven: 20.7 points, 10.8 boards, 3.5 assists, N/A blocks, 50% field goal percentage
--------------Finals: 23.1 points, 9.0 boards, 3.2 assists, 2.2 blocks, 52% field goal percentage

Obviously, you're sitting in front of your computer now and wondering: how did Kareem elevate himself when these stats are going down from the regular season to the finals? Well, here's an answer.

Some of the series and games Abdul-Jabbar played in were when he was a shadow of his old self, like the Finals from '87, '88, '89 and so on.

When those are thrown out, Jabbar's statistics on the highest stage are: 26.1 points, 10.3 boards, 4.1 assists, 1.8 blocks on 54.3% field goal percentage which are all off the charts numbers. All of these give him a strong case for this honor rightfully!




7. Defense
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Of all the aspects on the game that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was elite, this was quite possibly the most overlooked aspect of his game. He was one of the greatest defenders to step on a NBA Hardwood.

Kareem was a highly smart stopper who used his high basketball IQ, skills and translated his amazing physical gifts quite nicely. He was also a very fundamentally sound defender that did work on both ground and in the air like very few ever did.

He was one of the best shot blockers of all time. Jabbar relied on his fundamentals, instincts and ability to keep the ball inbound after the swat happened. He won multiple block titles and is second on the all time list.

Abdul-Jabbar was an intimating presence defensively due to that. He was a game changer on the other side of the court, as he made his opponents change their shots and take low percentages of them.

His impact was on pair with anyone's on defense. There're several proves for that. When Kareem was playing in Milwaukee, the Bucks had the top defense in the league for few seasons, despite not having another All-Defensive member in the roster.

Notable Career Facts and Stats

-All-NBA Defensive Team Selection: 11 (Five All-First Defensive/Six All-Second Defensive Team)
-Block Titles: Four
-His career total of 3,189 blocked shots is ranked No. 3 on the all-time lists
-His playoff total of 476 is the all-time best in playoff history
-His playoff average of 2.4 blocks per game is ranked No. 8 in playoff history
-His playoff total of 1,273 rebounds is ranked No. 5 in playoff history
-His career total of 9,394 defensive rebounds is ranked No. 9 all time
-His career defensive rating of 94.49 is ranked No. 2 all time
-His playoff defensive rating of 13.74 is ranked No. 4 in playoff history
-He has led the NBA twice in total defensive rebounds
-His total of 1,111 defensive rebounds is an NBA record





8. Scorer
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Of all the aspects in which Kareem Abdul Jabbar excelled on the court, his ability to score certainly caught most attention, an aspect in which he was amazing. He was arguably the greatest scorer of all time.

He was a nightmare for his opponents on offense. Kareem had superb size, athleticism, mobility and leaping ability on which he relied to establish a position down low and finish with authority inside too.

Abdul-Jabbar also possessed nice skills and a wide arsenal of moves that allowed him to score in many ways. What made him so tough to slow down, was his go to move, the sky hook.

It's the most difficult shot to contest in basketball, and Jabbar at 7'2 with his long hands and touch, made it even tougher to contest. He was close to unstoppable, especially in his peak and this forced defenses to throw multiple defenders to stop him.

Kareem had terrific consistency, fantastic efficiency for a high volume scorer, was reliable at scoring in key games and wasn't matched in terms of scoring within the team's offense.

He was consistently at the top in this regard, as many things prove that. Overall, he's got a fine case for the honor too.






9. Physically Imposing
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Kareem Abdul Jabbar revolutionized the center’s position by bringing grace and skills to a spot that has been characterized by pure physicality. However, Kareem was no softy at all, he was in fact one of the most physically imposing players to play the game.

He had great athleticism, underrated strength, was quick and had nice mobility as well which complimented his size quite well. He was capable to overpower his opponents inside and to get close to the hoop where he used to make his graceful sky hook.

Kareem established himself as a dominant presence in the paint on both sides of the court, as he’d go up high for a missed shot, to swat an attempt in his basket, push his opponents and to see a good look etc. His physicality helped him quite a bit.






10. Achievements

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"When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar left the game in 1989 at age 42, no NBA player had ever scored more points, blocked more shots, won more Most Valuable Player Awards, played in more All-Star Games or logged more seasons.

"
from Kareem's profile on NBA.com.


And indeed, Captain Sky hook was arguably the most accomplished player of all time and these achievements only make his case much better.
These feats are for respect.



11. Ability To Play In Any Era
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was one of those players who had all of the needed tools to excel in any era and dominate as well. He possessed a world class athleticism, could jump off the roof, had underrated strength and nice reach from a physical stand point of view.

Kareem was also a very quick and mobile center with amazing skills that allowed him to everything quite well on the court. He had an off the charts IQ which he relied on to make excellent plays.

All of these are terrific advantages to have as a player. Abdul-Jabbar was a dominant presence on both sides of the court, as he was a game changer who made the game easier for his teammates.

His production was obvious and unquestionable. Jabbar was one of those players which could play in any era and dominate too.




12. Quotes
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"Why judge anymore? When a man has broken records, won championship, endured tremendous criticism and responsibility why judge? Let's toast him as the greatest player ever." ----Pat Riley

"I lived to play against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was the greatest player I ever played against, by far. Better than Jordan. Better than Magic. better than Bird. Better than Dr. J. Better than the best of the best that I played against. Better than Rick Barry. He was my source of motivation for everything I ever did. Everything I did was to try to beat this guy. I lived to play against him, and I played my best ball against him. No matter what I threw at him, though, it seemed like he'd score 50 against me. His left leg belongs in the Smithsonian. And it wasn't just offense. He was a great defender and rebounder, a great passer, a wonderful leader. He was phenomenal. "----Bill Walton

Bill Russell is the greatest champion but Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the greatest player in the history of the game.”----Julius Erving

"Without question, no hesitation, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the best player I ever played against. "-------Bill Walton

I really needed help to guard Kareem. He is the only guy. "--------Wilt Chamberlain


Credits To:
-Basketball Reference

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#2 OFFLINE   Brett

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 07:30 AM

I like Wilt's quote how secretly conceited it is

#3 OFFLINE   Ben

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 07:35 AM

Jabbar was consistently among the leaders in points, won two scoring crowns and led five times in the playoffs too. He retired as the NBA all time leader in both regular and post season. He remained No.1 in the first.

A proof for that are the two most productive 30+ points seasons ever. There're more. Jabbar retired as the league's all time leader in scoring during both regular and post season while leading multiple teams in this aspect. He remained No.1 in the first.

I'm just pointing something out , I don't know if you meant to do that

#4 OFFLINE   Djoker

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 07:36 AM

Kareem is the GOAT scorer imho not only because he scored a lot of points and at high efficiency but because he did it in a way that benefited his team. When he had a season scoring 34.8 ppg on 57.4 %FG his team won 63 games!!

Also it's worth noting that since playoffs were shorter in the 70's his playoff numbers are greatly skewed by his runs in the late 80's when he was way out of his prime. He always elevated himself for the postseason and finals.

And as you said he came into the league as a complete player. He's the most NBA-ready rookie ever.

Great work as always! :clap:
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#5 OFFLINE   Diamantidis is GOAT

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 07:46 AM

Kareem isn't the greatest player ever or the 2nd greatest. IMO yeah you can bash on me, he is #6. He was without a doubt a great player but he had a good skyhook and that was it. Yeah he was a good rebounder, shot blocker, passer[for a center]. IMO he only has all these records beause he played for so long.

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#6 OFFLINE   TeoTheGreek13

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 07:52 AM

Good job there.

Kareem certainly has an amazing case for the best ever. He was fortunate enough to play almost till the 90's so he doesn't have people discrediting his early accomplishments, as they do with Oscar and Wilt.

I just want to say that imo, longevity is overrated in a sense that, it doesn't depends entirely on the player how long he'll play. Wilt for example. We all know that he was far more athletic and durable than Kareem and than any other player. Although, he had a mad streak of injuries in the late 60's and in the 70's that didn't allow him to play more.
I mean yeah, longevity increases your totals and the totals add to accomplishments, the accomplishments add to your career and your career adds to your greatness. BUT to me, longevity doesn't have to do much with greatness.
Has anyone ever "accuse" Russell for his short career in comparison with Kareem...?

Anyway, longevity or no longevity, Kareem is right there in the top with the very best of them.

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#7 OFFLINE   Djoker

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:00 AM

Good job there.

Kareem certainly has an amazing case as the for the best ever. He was fortunate enough to play almost till the 90's so he doesn't have people discrediting his early accomplishments, as they do with Oscar and Wilt.

I just want to say that imo, longevity is overrated in a sense that, it doesn't depends entirely on the player how long he'll play. Wilt for example. We all know that he was far more athletic and durable than Kareem and than any other player. Although, he had a mad streak of injuries in the late 60's and in the 70's that didn't allow him to play more.
I mean yeah, longevity increases your totals but and the totals add to accomplishments, the accomplishments add to your career and your career adds to your greatness. BUT to me, longevity doesn't have to do much with greatness.
Has anyone ever "accuse" Russell for his short career in comparison with Kareem...?

Anyway, longevity or no longevity, Kareem is right there in the top with the very best of them.


Whaa... not getting injured is part of how good a player is.

If two players are about equally good you always take the guy who played longer. There really isn't anyone better than Kareem so him playing the longest gives him a great case for GOAT. Longevity is actually one of the main reasons I have Kareem > Russell.

I will say though that Wilt in particular got screwed by playing so many minutes. The mileage on his body when he blew out that knee in 69-70 was already astronomical even though it was only his 11th season.

#8 OFFLINE   Ben

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:07 AM

Kareem isn't the greatest player ever or the 2nd greatest. IMO yeah you can bash on me, he is #6. He was without a doubt a great player but he had a good skyhook and that was it. Yeah he was a good rebounder, shot blocker, passer[for a center]. IMO he only has all these records beause he played for so long.

...Who is 2, 3, 4, 5 on your list by the way?

#9 OFFLINE   TeoTheGreek13

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:09 AM

Whaa... not getting injured is part of how good a player is.

If two players are about equally good you always take the guy who played longer. There really isn't anyone better than Kareem so him playing the longest gives him a great case for GOAT. Longevity is actually one of the main reasons I have Kareem > Russell.

I will say though that Wilt in particular got screwed by playing so many minutes. The mileage on his body when he blew out that knee in 69-70 was already astronomical even though it was only his 11th season.

Even if that's the reason he didn't last more than 14 years, it's not his fault. It wasn't because of him. But anyway, I can't really say it's minutes the reason because there were many players, including Bill and Oscar, that were averaging something like 44 mpg. If you add Wilt's physical abilities... it can't be that.


@"Whaa... not getting injured is part of how good a player is."
Hmm, no it's not. By your logic, I guess Kobe has a great case of being better than Shaq...

@"If two players are about equally good you always take the guy who played longer."
I believe you. I'd do the same but what I'm saying is that it doesn't add to his greatness. He's still equal to the other player. It just improves his career accomplishments and totals. Somewhere here, our difference in criteria comes to the surface...

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#10 OFFLINE   The Future

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:24 AM

Jabbar was consistently among the leaders in points, won two scoring crowns and led five times in the playoffs too. He retired as the NBA all time leader in both regular and post season. He remained No.1 in the first.

A proof for that are the two most productive 30+ points seasons ever. There're more. Jabbar retired as the league's all time leader in scoring during both regular and post season while leading multiple teams in this aspect. He remained No.1 in the first.

I'm just pointing something out , I don't know if you meant to do that


Meaning he remained the all time leader in the RS. I didn't want to repeat myself consistently with the same thing. It's not nice.

Thanks for the read and comment.

I like Wilt's quote how secretly conceited it is


Thanks for the read and comment.

Kareem is the GOAT scorer imho not only because he scored a lot of points and at high efficiency but because he did it in a way that benefited his team. When he had a season scoring 34.8 ppg on 57.4 %FG his team won 63 games!!

Also it's worth noting that since playoffs were shorter in the 70's his playoff numbers are greatly skewed by his runs in the late 80's when he was way out of his prime. He always elevated himself for the postseason and finals.

And as you said he came into the league as a complete player. He's the most NBA-ready rookie ever.

Great work as always! :clap:


Thanks for the read and comment.

Kareem isn't the greatest player ever or the 2nd greatest. IMO yeah you can bash on me, he is #6. He was without a doubt a great player but he had a good skyhook and that was it. Yeah he was a good rebounder, shot blocker, passer[for a center]. IMO he only has all these records beause he played for so long.


Debatable. Thanks for the read and comment. Oh, and Kareem had a terrific offensive arsenal.

Good job there.

Kareem certainly has an amazing case as the for the best ever. He was fortunate enough to play almost till the 90's so he doesn't have people discrediting his early accomplishments, as they do with Oscar and Wilt.

I just want to say that imo, longevity is overrated in a sense that, it doesn't depends entirely on the player how long he'll play. Wilt for example. We all know that he was far more athletic and durable than Kareem and than any other player. Although, he had a mad streak of injuries in the late 60's and in the 70's that didn't allow him to play more.
I mean yeah, longevity increases your totals and the totals add to accomplishments, the accomplishments add to your career and your career adds to your greatness. BUT to me, longevity doesn't have to do much with greatness.
Has anyone ever "accuse" Russell for his short career in comparison with Kareem...?

Anyway, longevity or no longevity, Kareem is right there in the top with the very best of them.


Solid points. Thanks for the read and comment.

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#11 OFFLINE   Ben

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:27 AM

Meaning he remained the all time leader in the RS. I didn't want to repeat myself consistently with the same thing. It's not nice.

Thanks for the read and comment.



Thanks for the read and comment.



Thanks for the read and comment.



Debatable. Thanks for the read and comment. Oh, and Kareem had a terrific offensive arsenal.



Solid points. Thanks for the read and comment.

But what do you think, since Jordan is everybody's GOAT but really what puts Jordan over Kareem or vice versa

#12 ONLINE   The Logo

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:28 AM

I liked this article a lot. Kareem was great. Good article.

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#13 OFFLINE   The Future

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:29 AM

But what do you think, since Jordan is everybody's GOAT but really what puts Jordan over Kareem or vice versa


On what?

I liked this article a lot. Kareem was great. Good article.


Thanks for the read and comment.

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#14 OFFLINE   Ben

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:32 AM

On what?



Thanks for the read and comment.

Like why is Jordan better than Kareem or what is it that puts him over Kareem? Dominance? Accomplishments?

#15 OFFLINE   Young Gee

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:33 AM

I agree. Hes so underrated

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#16 OFFLINE   The Future

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:37 AM

Like why is Jordan better than Kareem or what is it that puts him over Kareem? Dominance? Accomplishments?


Ugh.. it's super close between the two. Jordan's impact rivals Kareem's, despite being a two guard, a position from which is harder to put big numbers. Then, we have the greater level of elevating his game, the stats, better scoring and being a more all-around player. All of these are superb arguable.

I agree. Hes so underrated


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#17 OFFLINE   Ben

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:39 AM

Ugh.. it's super close between the two. Jordan's impact rivals Kareem's, despite being a two guard, a position from which is harder to put big numbers. Then, we have the greater level of elevating his game, the stats, better scoring and being a more all-around player. All of these are superb arguable.



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True, welp thanks anyways and great article! When is the Wilt one coming btw

#18 OFFLINE   The Future

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:41 AM

True, welp thanks anyways and great article! When is the Wilt one coming btw


In a month or so. Depends on how many articles I have before I start it.
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#19 OFFLINE   Young Gee

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:42 AM

Ugh.. it's super close between the two. Jordan's impact rivals Kareem's, despite being a two guard, a position from which is harder to put big numbers. Then, we have the greater level of elevating his game, the stats, better scoring and being a more all-around player. All of these are superb arguable.



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No

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#20 OFFLINE   The Future

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:46 AM

No


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