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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar questions Scottie Pippen's argument that LeBron James ‘may be the greatest player to ever play’

6a00d8341c506253ef01538e94dae3970b-320wi-1In a nearly two-week span, former Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar went from questioning the Lakers' loyalty to questioning Scottie Pippen's claim that LeBron James "may be the greatest player to ever play."

After arguing that the Lakers' failure to honor him with a statue serves as an example of the team disrespecting him, the NBA's all-time leading scorer is now arguing Pippen's willingness to prop up James on the heels of the Heat-Mavericks NBA Finals matchup reflects his lack of appreciation for NBA greats such as Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and even Pippen's former teammate, Michael Jordan himself.

You may agree with Abdul-Jabbar's assessment that a statue honoring him is long overdue and that he holds the credibility to question Pippen's knowledge on NBA history. You may disagree with the tactics, believing his public gripes about the Lakers come off as sour grapes and chastising Pippen comes across as bullying. But it still makes for interesting reading.

So without further ado, here is Abdul-Jabbar's open letter to Pippen, which was recently obtained by The Times:

How Soon They Forget: An Open Letter to Scottie Pippen

Dear Scottie,

I have nothing but respect for you my friend as an athlete and knowledgeable basketball mind. But you are way off in your assessment of who is the greatest player of all time and the greatest scorer of all time. Your comments are off because of your limited perspective. You obviously never saw Wilt Chamberlain play who undoubtedly was the greatest scorer this game has ever known. When did MJ ever average 50.4 points per game plus 25.7 rebounds? (Wilt in the 1962 season when blocked shot statistics were not kept). We will never accurately know how many shots Wilt blocked. Oh, by the way in 1967 and 68, Wilt was a league leader in assists. Did MJ ever score 100 points in a game? How many times did MJ score more than 60 points in a game? MJ led the league in scoring in consecutive seasons for 10 years but he did this in an NBA that eventually expanded into 30 teams vs. when Wilt played and there were only 8 teams.

Every team had the opportunity to amass a solid nucleus. Only the cream of the basketball world got to play then. So MJ has to be appraised in perspective. His incredible athletic ability, charisma and leadership on the court helped to make basketball popular around the world -- no question about that. But in terms of greatness, MJ has to take a backseat to The Stilt.

In terms of winning, Michael excelled as both an emotional and scoring leader but Bill Russell’s Celtics won eight consecutive NBA Championships. Bill's rebounding average per game is over 22.5 lifetime, MJs best rebounding years was eight per game (1989). But we will never know exactly how many shots Bill Russell blocked because again, they never kept that statistic while he played. However, if you ask anybody that played against Russell, they will just roll their eyes and say he blocked all the shots he wanted to block in the crucial moments of a game.

Bill played on a total of 11 championship teams and as you very well know, Scottie, the ring is the thing, and everything else is just statistics. So I would advise you to do a little homework before crowning Michael or LeBron with the title of best ever. As dominant as he is, LeBron has yet to win a championship. I must say that it looks like Miami has finally put the team together that will change that circumstance. Its my hope that today’s players get a better perspective on exactly what has been done in this league in the days of yore.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,
NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer

-- Mark Medina

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Photo: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hooks over the Celtics' Robert Parrish in 1987. Credit: Carol Francavilla / Associated Press

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Good Morning Laker crew and Mr Medina,

What a nice today today in souther california...
too bad I'm at work :(

anyway, first I want to praise Barcelona for winning a beautiful Champions League Trophy on Santurday against Manchester United...

Did KAJ really write that? or is it something that you made up in a form of a letter? otherwise, I kind of would say KAJ is boared, who really cares what Pippen says, its not like he was ever a lengendary player like MJ or KB or KAJ or even Wilt Cham... so why not let LEBRONZ earn his talk, instead of comparing him to all time great players...

just ignor him..

Pippen was named to the NBA's top 50 ever.

So it's not as though Scottie is chopped liver (even Hall of Fame chopped liver)

@ Tim-4.... I agree with you, but would you also agree that without MJ Pippen wouldnt be name in the top 50 all time in NBA, or even have championships for that matter...?

Great article. I agree with Kareem.
We have to give props to Lebron the way he is playing, but to compare him to mj or Wilt is just a nonsense.

We just have to wait more time and then reflect.

Wilt was the greatest to ever play the game. It's a loss that there aren't much video archives because from what I've seen he seemed like the real goliath.

Michael Jordan is over-rated.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


Haha nope Caps wrote that letter including the sign off describing himself as the NBA's all-time leading scorer

@ Mark.. Yea thats why I said did you write it? or he did? ahaha. This is my favorite part though the footer...

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,
NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is such a female (in the worst way possible) just because he didn't get a statue he wants to down everyone as a basketball player. MJ is the best of all time, period. And you can compare Micheal and LeBron and Kobe because they are DOMINANT players. Talk about the looser who tried to compare Rose and Micheal, I'm done.

Comparing players from 50 years ago to today is a waste of time. Wilt was great because he was a rare 7 footer. Today, 7 footers play the 3 spot. The athleticism of today's game is overlooked, with guys literally jumping out of the gym. Put Shaq against Wilt and see who wins. My money would be on Shaq given his overall physical dominance. Remember Shaq literally destroying the double team of Tim Duncan and David Robinson a decade ago?

Jordan has to be the leader of the pack when it comes to the modern era of the game, although if he played today I'm not so sure he could guard LeBron...but I bet LeBron could guard him!

Rock on.


I agree with Kareem on this. When Jordanettes or Kobe Haters always made a bit hateful post about MJ was the G.O.A.T. and Kobe will never come close, I've always said, What about Russell? What about Kareem? What about Wilt?

The truth is that recency has an impact on people's opinion of who's the greatest ever. Someone who's 20 right now and has only been into basketball for 3 or 4 years probably sees Kobe as the greatest ever but thinks that LeBron &/or Kevin Durant will pass him some day.

My current top 5 all time would be this:

1. Russell
2. Wilt
3. MJ
4. Kareem
5. Magic

Kobe would have to make a few more accomplishments to get into that list (a couple more rings would do it - or a ring and another MVP or two)

Guys like LeBron, Wade, Durant, or anyone else have a LOOOOONG way to go just to catch up to Kobe, let alone break into the G.O.A.T. discussion.

Had to chime in on this one. Although the Captain may be viewed as spouting sour grapes at the Lakers on the statue (IMO he is correct), he is definitely correct on Pip's asinine assertion about LBJ being the greatest. Too many comparisons are based on what I call the ESPN era of sports in which sports can be viewed 24-7. ESPN and the media created the King James persona and of course he bought into it. Players from yesteryear are being passed up almost like they did not exist and that is a shame. They are players in the league who should not be - Jeff Foster, our own Luke, and even one who made it to this year's Finals B. Haywood - and he pointed out that fact by saying 8 teams vs the 30 today, which means U had to be the best of the best. Maybe the Heat will get their ring (collusion) but that will not make him the greatest. His stats do not even compare to Jordan (and man I still have some bitter feelings on him beating my Lakers for his 1st championship so it is obvious I am not a MJ fan but respect his accomplishments). As for the comment about Jabbar being a female, how would U feel if U are the greatest scorer in the game and not be immortalized outside your home stadium - would U be quiet? Very doubtful. And to the guy who asserts that MJ could not check LBJ - think again - LBJ would give up and quit like he did last year vs the Celtics thus the reason for joining forces with Wade to form a super team. The main difference between MJ and LBJ is competitive nature, for now at least, not physical attributes. LBJ's competitive fire does not even compare to our own KB 24. If jumping out the gym is a quality deemed necessary for the Hall, Vince Carter and Harold Miner would be a shoo-in and we all know that is not the case. The guys from back in the day played with their heads probably due to going to college for 4 years (there's a thought). In closing, Pippen to me has always been the Ultimate Robin, not Batman, and should have not made the 50 greatest for when he had his shot during MJ's sabbatical, he failed miserably and even threw a tantrum.

Wait Tila Commercial - every person has the right to express what he has on his mind as long as it does not hurt the other party to the point of committing a crime and well, KAJ, did exactly just that. If he thinks he's NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer, anyone else can claim that too!

Nobody really cares what Kareem thinks!!!!!

Odds, many of us true fans do. Kareem was the greatest Laker EVER.

Stats don't lie.

Magic never won a title without Kareem, but Kareem won without Magic.

Mvedra26, you ignorant...well you know what you are. Kareem Abdul Jabbar actually IS the NBA's All-Time Leading Scorer.

In my humble opinion, The Big Guy also is the Lakers' greatest of all time, followed closely by The Logo and Magic. Kobe, I love you man, but you're still a work in progress.

I respect what Kareem has to say, not always agreeing with it, but still worth at least contemplating on. If he says Wilt was the greatest, then I have to at least consider that he was. The numbers are staggering and his legend is secure, but could he really play in today's NBA? (No "but he would be 75" jokes, please) My opinion is that he would be better than an All-Star level player if he was currently playing as an "in his prime" aged player.

So its an endless, vicious circle kind of argument that will always be a part of any sport...and will never have a definitive answer.

my all time # player of all time = Adam Morrison

want to see a 60 year old giant crybaby? = Kareem
who's been hungry for attention lately = Kareem

MJ is the greatest of all time. I completely disagree with KAJ. Wilt and Bill Russel played in a different era. They where freaks of nature 7 foot giants playing against little boys. Maybe they only had 8 teams but I guaranty you that there was way more talent in the 80's, 90's, and 2000's. Just look at pictures from games of that era. Wilt, BR, and KAJ are so skinny. They would get destroyed by Shaq in his prime, by Patrick Ewing, by Dwight Howard, Hakeem, Charles Barkley would push KBJ's ass around in the paint. Karl Malone, Tim Duncan and David Robinson, Alonzo Morning, Even Yao Ming would give him trouble. Today's game is full of stronger more athletic players. KBJ is the NBA's all time leading scorer but he played over 20 seasons total. MJ averaged 30 points a game during the NBA's greatest era. Where size, skill, and athleticism where at an all time high in this league. He dominated from the guard position. KBJ, Wilt, and BR beat up on less talented players. They may be 20 and 10 guys in today's NBA. Maybe even all stars. But they are crazy if they think they would dominate like MJ or even Shaq in his prime. I bet Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnet would have their way with KBJ. Sure he would get a couple sky hooks off. But he is not stopping Dirk or any other great big man in today's game.

Oh yes, When I said KBJ I ment KAJ for Kareem Abdul Jabbar. My bad on the typo.

@ Bigothomas3840.

Jeff Foster does belong in the league.

I think its interesting that 2 out of the 3 players whom u named as "dont belong in the league" are white americans. This fits perfectly with a new article i am writing. It is about how hip hop culture has infused with NBA culture as a result of the era of MJ and the "coolness" he brought to basketball. The infusion has also happened in part because young african americans tend to participate and grow up around hip hop culture as well as love basketball, and now those youngsters are actually playing in the NBA or fans of it or commentating on it. Essentially, basketball and hip-hop culture have grown up together and are now at an age where the people involved in it are in prominent positions. As we all know, in hip hop culture, it is not okay and certainly not cool to be white. The same attitudes are reflected in the culture of the NBA and in the media and fan culture that surrounds it. But it seems to be something that is grossly overlooked, but in my opinion it is overlooked because it is so overwhelmingly a part of the norm. It is so perfectly acceptable to bash or degrade or laugh at white players. The term "so white" has even come to embody the idea of being inept as a player, just as in hip-hop culture it has come to mean "uncool". White Europeans are viewed as their own sub-group, and are generally regarded as being ultra-skilled or crafty and gritty. But white americans have their skills marginalized in every way, except when it comes to being a dead-eye three point shooter. Anyways, enough rambling, my article will be about what these perceptions and attitudes have done to young white american players, current NBA white american players, and current NBA general managers and coaches (it is my opinion that these biases have affected the success of white americans once they reach the NBA because NBA coaches and GMs are predisposed to interpreting their play in a negative light). And it is also in my findings that the issue is one that is growing. You might say, the league is de-whitening (saying it is blackening does not really fit because white europeans are not grossly affected by this). Decade by decade we see less and less white americans reach the NBA, which i see as evidence of the youth being affected by the "uncool white guy/unskilled white guy" bias. And with each successive decade we see an increase in the number of white americans who DO reach the NBA only to become "busts" or fall drastically short of expectations, which i see as evidence of the bias that exists WITHIN the league among coaches and GMs.

*that whole thing was not directed at BigThomas. Only the jeff foster part was.



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