Kareem Abdul-Jabbar believes that LeBron James needs a sharpened perspective about the NBA’s all-time greatest players.
Abdul-Jabbar — a Hall of Famer, the top scorer in NBA history, and only player to have earned six championships and six league MVPs — sneered at King James recently naming Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Oscar Robertson to his personal Mount Rushmore of hoops greatest. James also made sure to add that he will eventually bump one of them off the monument as one of the four greatest players to ever play the game.
Abdul-Jabbar doesn't think James is close in caliber to fellow Hall of Famers like Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell yet.
"LeBron James was talking about how he’s the best ever," Abdul-Jabbar said in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Daily News. "He never saw Wilt Chamberlain play. If he had, he wouldn’t say that. Whenever he averages 55 points a game, then I might want to listen to what he has to say."
Abdul-Jabbar, the author of the sky hook added, "I’m not trying to put LeBron down. He’s awesome. He’s the best player in this era at this point. But he didn’t see Bill Russell play. When his team wins eight consecutive NBA championships, maybe I’ll compare him to Bill Russell. Until then, he has to prove a few things."
Abdul-Jabbar’s comments stem from a February interview that NBA TV analyst Steve Smith conducted with James.
"I’m going to be one of the top four that’s ever played this game, for sure," James told Smith in the interview. "And if they don’t want me to have one of those top four spots, they’d better find another spot on that mountain. Somebody’s gotta get bumped, but that’s not for me to decide. That’s for the architects."
Although Abdul-Jabbar says he does belong in the conversation, he enforced the notion that he’s not putting James down for leaving him out. It’s just that Jabbar believes his era and the one that preceded him didn’t cater to an offensive player with aspects like hand-checking allowed.
"It was a more difficult game to play," Abdul-Jabbar said. "I don’t think he gets it in terms of the great athletes that have played this game."
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(Photos from Left: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images, Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)