Kareem: Pippen ‘Way Off’ With Best Player Ever Comment

CHICAGO (CBS) Last week, Scottie Pippen voiced his opinion about who was the best player and who was the best scorer ever. His opinion caused a bit of controversy.

On ESPN Radio, Pippen said that Michael Jordan was the greatest scorer the NBA has ever seen, but LeBron James could be the greatest all player of all-time. Pippen was met with plenty of backlash here in Chicago, and around the country, as fans and members of the media rushed to return that title to Jordan.

On Tuesday, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, voiced his opinion on the matter. On his website, Kareem said that he has “nothing but respect” for Pippen as his “friend as an athlete and knowledgeable basketball mind.” But when on to say that Pippen was “way off” in his assessment of the league’s greatest scorer and greatest player ever.

“Your comments are off because of your limited perspective,” Kareem said to Pippen in an open letter on his website. “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).”

And in Kareem’s mind, Jordan isn’t even the greatest player of all time. While he admits that Jordan’s “incredible athletic ability, charisma and leadership on the court helped to make basketball popular around the world…” Bill Russell is the game’s greatest player.

Kareem justifies his choice by saying that “the ring is the thing, and everything else is just statistics.” And Russell’s eight consecutive championships, and 11 total put him ahead of Jordan.

  • Meatless Meatball

    He’s right. That’s why I love that new trailer where Jason Segel is arguing with the kid about Jordan vs. Bron. In the Jordan vs. Russell question, it’s even easier: Call me when Jordan has more rings than he has fingers.

    • Mike

      Trying to compare statistics and championships across eras without context is pointless. Bill Russell had the advantage of playing in an era where the guy running his team, Red Auerbach, was the only intelligent person running a basketball franchise. MJ’s dual three-peats in an infinitely more competitive era is more impressive than what Russell accomplished in the league’s infancy.

      Similarly, Kareem is flat wrong for describing Wilt as the best scorer ever because he averaged 50 a game one year. There were, on average, about 30 or 40 more possessions a game back then, and in his prime he had no other 7-footers to contend with. It’s questionable how much his game would translate across eras, as even Shaq had a much more diversified game than Wilt. It’s also questionable how a 6-9, 215 pound pivot like Russell would dominate defensively today. There is no question that MJ or Bron would have ripped the 1960’s to shreds. Take everything Elgin Baylor did in those years, and multiply it by three or four.

    • Mark, Sterling

      By that logic, Yogi Berra is the greatest baseball player of all time, and Charles Haley is the greatest football player of all time. Simply saying “he won championships” just isn’t an accurate enough measurement of a PLAYERS greatness. A TEAMS greatness? yeah.

  • Mark, Sterling

    Call me when Bill Russell wins a championship with less than 5 hall of fame players….Same argument I use when people compare Jim Brown and Walter. It’s Walter, hands down. Yes Mike had Scottie who is also in the Hall, but thats it. Bill had 6, SIX guys (including himself) that ended up in the Hall. I’m sorry, but when you have THAT much talent on the floor with you, I can’t call you the greatest.

    • Mike

      That isn’t the correct argument either because with only 88 total players in the league back then, the Celtics weren’t the only team with multiple HOFers. Wilt’s teams usually had comparable talent to the Celtics. Within its era, there is no questioning Russell’s greatness. And yes, championships absolutely matter when comparing all-time basketball greats. The best player in basketball has more to do with his team’s success than any other sport. But when comparing across eras, you need to put things in context.

    • Mark, Sterling

      Double checking myself, it was actually 9 guys including Bill that are enshrined. All played significant time with Bill.

  • mike

    HEY “NO-TIPPIN’ PIPPIN!!!” Stiff any waitresses on the tip lately??? YOU HAVE NO CLASS!!!! ZERO!!!! PERIOD!!!!

  • Mike

    The greatest player of all time was Magic. Who else could play any position from Point Guard to Center at an NBA Finals MVP type caliber? I don’t think there has ever been another player to do that. Jordan was clearly a far better scorer, but Johnson knew how to play that game better than anyone and turned passing into a true art with his court vision.

    • Mike M

      I guess I’m not the only person named Mike commenting today. To be clear, I’m the one who said you need to use context when comparing across eras, not the one saying Magic is the best ever. What you said makes him perhaps the most versatile ever, but MJ is the best. Don’t forget that Magic was a bad defender and MJ was a DPOY.

  • Steve

    It is not about rings. But it helps.
    Russell was not a scorer. And he played when there were only a handful of teams. Players didn’t move. He played with 6 HOFers. My top 5:
    1. Jordan
    2. Wilt
    3. Kareem
    4. Kobe
    4. Magic

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/06/02/wisch-forget-mj-vs-lebron-what-about-pippen-vs-wade/ Wisch: Forget MJ vs. LeBron, What About Pippen vs. Wade? « CBS Chicago

    […] (If you ask Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) […]

  • Gary R.

    MIKE, Wilt was clearly the best scorer ever as I will demonstrate later. Wilt may not have faced many 7 footers, but many GREAT centers that were very close: Nate Thurmond – 6’11”, Walt Bellamy – 6′ 11″, Willis Reed – 6’10”, and of course Bill Russell at 6’9″ and later in his career, Kareem Adbul Jabbar at 7’2″. These were all men of GREAT Talent and many lesser centers of 7 feet existed like Mel Counts.

    In the mid 1980’s when an NBA player scored 50 points in a game for the 236th time in NBA history Sports Illustrated commemorated it. Why? Because 118 times Wilt has scored 50 or more and with that 118th 50 pt. game by the entire NBA for ALL TIME, the NBA had tied Wilt. ANY MORE ARGUMENT??

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