It’s a bit of a bar stool argument; there isn’t only one right answer to “who is the greatest basketball player of all time?” It’s a matter of opinion (well, so long as you don’t say Craig Ehlo). The conventional wisdom right now is Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time (Magic Johnson says he is), but if you want to argue for Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Magic, or a few others you’re not out of line.
“If I had to pick a guy it would be Wilt Chamberlain, because if you look at his records, it’s hilarious, nobody will approach any of his records. So he would be my guy. Bill Russell would be behind him. A guy who is always overlooked is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — the leading scorer in the history of the game. The skyhook is the most lethal weapon the game has ever seen, but when people talk about the greatest player he’s not even in the top five.”
I agree with Fraizer on the last part — Abdul-Jabbar does get shortchanged in this conversation far too much. Six time champ, six time MVP, his numbers stack up with anyone.
I was on a television show in Los Angeles with the Hall of Fame basketball writer Mark Heisler (formerly of the Los Angeles Times, now blogging for Forbes) and he made a good point: For him, the GOAT conversation has to be broken out into big men and guard/wings. He said their roles and what they provide on the court are so different, it’s not fair to compare the contributions of guys such as Kareem and Jordan. He thought they were separate discussions. I think there’s something to that logic. It’s also hard to compare across eras because there didn’t use to be a three-point shot, and how defenses were called (zone, no zone, hand checking on the perimeter) has changed.
Still, you can make a good case for Chamberlain — for his career he averaged 30.1 points and 22.9 rebounds, he was physically far ahead of his time. He was the first big man in the NBA who was a real athlete, and he changed the game.
Joel Embiid upgrades himself from 69% to 81%: ‘Shoutout to Jalen Rose’
The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.
However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.
“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”
This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.
Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.
Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s
He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.
The San Antonio coach has seen everything.
Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.
“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”
“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”
The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.
Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.
Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)