As a six-time NBA champion and one of the greatest players to walk on a court, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is among the most well-respected men in the basketball community.
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One of the most intense basketball debates involves the subject of who’s the best player in league history, with two of the best players of their respective generations, Michael Jordan and LeBron James, dominating these discussions on a regular basis.
But Abdul-Jabbar thinks one of his former teammates is better than both of those all-time greats.
“LeBron is awesome, MJ was awesome — but I think Oscar Robertson would have kicked them both in the behind,” Abdul-Jabbar said Thursday on Colin Cowherd‘s radio show.
“Absolutely. Oscar was awesome. He had brains . . . He had all the skills. He could rebound and box out guys 4 and 6 inches taller than him. He was ruggedly built. He had fluid, quickness, and just understood the game. No flair, he just got the job done every night. Who’s going to average double figures in points, assists and rebounds?”
Robertson, named as one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players at the 1997 All-Star Game, led the Milwaukee Bucks to the 1971 NBA title with Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor. The “Big O” is also the only player to average a triple-double for an entire season, a feat that James has a small chance to match given his extraordinary all-around game.
It’s difficult to compare players who played in different eras because the game has changed so much since Robertson’s prime in the 1970s, but Abdul-Jabbar’s comments on how his former teammate stacks up against James and Jordan are not outlandish by any means.
As someone who’s watched about 50 years of NBA basketball, Abdul-Jabbar’s opinion carries more weight than most.