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北京pk10彩票官网 www.bjn98.com The Greatest Of All Time is a timeless debate. It is an entertaining debate.
It’s a debate that can’t be won.
Who is the GOAT? Your answer is as good as mine.
There is no one GOAT, only several GOATs in the NBA, and quality arguments can be made for many players: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Take your pick.
In today’s era of social media and screaming sports radio and TV talk shows, everything must be black and white, this or that, right or wrong.
When in truth, it’s not black and white, it’s gray. It can be this and that and you can be right without being wrong.
If championships are your defining qualification, Russell is your guy with 11 titles and five MVPs. Russell is such a champion, the NBA Finals MVP award is named after him. He is the ultimate team player who cared about one thing above points, rebounds, assists and?blocked shots: winning. He is an original Roll With The Winners member.
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If pure dominance is your thing, Chamberlain, who averaged 30.1 points for his career and 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds in 1961-62, is your guy. His only peer was Russell, and while Russell’s teams often got the best of Chamberlain’s teams, Chamberlain averaged 29.9 points and 28.2 rebounds against Russell and the Celtics, once going for 62 points and 28 rebounds. He won four MVPs.
Abdul-Jabbar, my goodness, the man deserves more recognition in this conversation than he receives. Six MVPs (most in NBA history), 38,387 points (also most in NBA history and more than 1,000 more than No. 2 Karl Malone) and six championships. That’s an unbeatable combination of individual and team dominance.
Jordan took the torch from Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and made it burn brighter, elevating the way the game is played with athleticism and grace and making plays that no one had made before. He won six NBA championships, five MVPs and six Finals MVPs and is No. 5 on the all-time scoring list. And if you prefer your GOAT to have an assassin’s mentality, he's your guy.
James’ career isn’t over yet, but he’s in the discussion because he has excelled in all facets of the game with strength and athleticism and a continuous effort to improve his game. He has four MVPs, three championships, three Finals MVPs and by the time his career is over, he likely will be in the top three in points and assists on the NBA’s all-time lists. No other player is even in the top 10 in both categories.
And we haven’t begun to weigh where Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Johnson, Bird, Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon fit in.
We also haven’t begun to discuss the eras when the game was different, there was no three-point line, the Celtics had a monopoly on talent, there were lax defensive rules and varying levels of competition or how the Russell-Chamberlain, Bird-Magic and Jordan eras would've been shaped in a 24/7, highly scrutinized, over-analyzed social media era.
Nor have we discussed the various intangibles that made each player great – the importance of Abdul-Jabbar’s unstoppable skyhook, the influence of Magic and Bird on the NBA’s popularity and the influence of Jordan on other players. Or?the unrealistic expectations placed on James as a 16-year-old to be the next greatest player and how he is surpassing those expectations.
To borrow a phrase often mis-attributed to Albert Einstein, "Not everything that counts can be counted."
It is so subjective and a matter of taste. IPAs vs. stouts. Texas BBQ vs. North Carolina BBQ.
You can make valid and convincing cases for multiple players.
And the topic is never-ending because there will be another player in 15 or?20 years who will enter the conversation. It's the way it has been and the way it always will be.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Opinion: In the NBA, there is not a GOAT. Only GOATs.