Greatest NBA Player of All Time
I accept this debate and good luck.
I contend that Bill Russell is the greatest basketball player of all time. His career stats are unmatched.
“A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a twelve-time All-Star, Russell was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty, winning eleven NBA championships during his thirteen-year career.” (1)
11 championships out of 13 seasons... as the center piece. No other player even comes close.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Jabber played 20 seasons.
Bill Russell played 13 seasons.
Pro says “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a 6 time mvp”
6 out of 20 is roughly 30% of his career he was an MVP. Lets contrast that with Bill Russell. 5 out of 13 seasons, that is almost 40% of his career as MVP. Bill Russell wins this comparison.
Pro says of Kareem “a winner of 6 nba championships.” Out of 20 seasons that means Kareem was a champion 30% of his career. Pretty impressive. However, Bill Russell 11/13 is almost 85% of his career as a champion. Not even close.
Also note that Bill Russell almost won twice the championships playing almost half the seasons of Kareem.
Pro says of Kareem, he “is the all time leading scorer.” This is largely the result of playing 20 years. He averaged 24.6 points a game in his career. (1) Michael Jorden averaged 30 points a game in his career.(2) LeBron has averaged 27.5 per game in his career. (3) It is reasonable to assume that if Michael Jorden had played 20 seasons, he would have scored many more points than Kareem. Likewise if LeBron plays for 20 seasons, he will also surpass Kareem.
Likewise, with blocks. Kareem’s numbers are only so high because he played 20 seasons. Kareem’s longevity is impressive. However, that does not make him the greatest NBA player ever. For example, John Stockton played 19 seasons, he is the league leader in career assists, and steals.(4) He was great there is no doubt. But if Magic Johnson had played 19 seasons, he would have had way more assists than Stockton as his career average of assists was 11.2 per game over Stockton’s 10.5 per game.
Pro says “The main problem I have with Russell is that he was not a very good offensive player and that Wilt was far superior to him.”
Russell was a good albeit not a great offensive player averaging 15.1 points a game in his career. However, he was amazing defensively. You say that Wilt was far superior to Russell, let us take a look. . They met several times, in fact “Wilt and Russell played against each other 142 times in 10 years. Russell's team won 88, Wilt's teams won 74. (14 game difference)”(5) Their careers occured at the same time, yet wilt only won 2 finals Bill winning 11.
Both the center on their teams, and the center piece on their teams. Clearly Bill Russell wins this match up.
Kareem was a great player. However, not the greatest ever. His scoring title while impressive is likely to be broken, as many players have averaged more points than Kareem per game in their career. It seems that it is only a matter of time until this record is broken. Bill Russell’s 11/13 championships is not likely to ever be broken. No NBA player even comes close. This is why Bill Russell is much more impressive than Kareem and ultimately the greatest NBA player ever.
Championships-Kareem has 6 championships with 2 finals mvps, although he got robbed of the one in Magic's rookie year because one of the judges changed their vote plus he was the better player in the overall series and he should of won the one in 1985 too. Russell has 11 championships (finals mvps were counted when he played but we can assume he'd have atleast 6). You might think that Russell blows away Kareem in this aspect but in fact it's much closer than you think. All of Russell's championships came under legendary coach Red A. while Kareem only one a couple of his championships with a hall of fame coach (Pat Riley). Bill Russell played on teams with Bob cousy, Sam Jones, KC Jones, John Havilcek, and many other great players and had all of them in there and his prime. While Kareem had oscar in the beginning of his prime and then a period of nobody right in the middle of his prime and then Magic joined him in the end of his prime. Kareem never had the luxury of being with so many great players in the middle of his prime while Russell did. Kareem also won 5 championships in the 1980s which is often considered the toughest era to win in NBA history. While i do still believe Russell has the edge for championships I do think that it is really close.
Scoring- Russell averaged about 15 ppg and barely played out of his prime while Kareem was able to maintain a career 25 ppg average while playing for 20 years!!! That is incredibly difficult. He even averaged 23 ppg at the age of 38!!! He didnt slip below 20 ppg until he reached age 39. Kareem's usage % (possessions ending with this player) is at 24% (the stat started in the 1978 season but we could assume that it would be no higher than 28) while Michael Jordan has the record at 33%. Kareem didn't get the ball as much late in his career because of the lakers incredible efficiency to score on the fast break but when they couldn't score on the fast break Kareem would be their first option. Kareem wins this easily
Blocks-Had they counted this stat in Russell's time he'd most likely be 2nd all time to Wilt. However, in Russell's era players were way more likely to drive to the paint due to no 3 pt line while in Kareem's later career they didn't drive to the paint nearly as often so that is one reason he wouldn't have as many blocks. Also, they didn't count Blocks for Kareem's first 3-4 years but if they did he'd have about the same as Hakeem does. Kareem wins this but not by much.
Yes Russell won most of the times vs Wilt but Wilt almost always dominated him in their h2h matchup. Just because your team wins doesn't mean your better. Wilt could do it all while Russell was most one dimensional. Bill Russell also had better teams and a much much better coach.
Overall- Bill Russell is without a doubt one of the greatest NBA players of all time. However, there is absolutely no way in which Bill Russell could be considered the greater than Kareem. Kareem's statistical dominance along with longevity and how he did things made him a much better player.
MVP’s: Despite pro's claim that “as great as Russell was he did not deserve the MVP in the 1961-1962 season.” It is evident that 5/13 is greater than 6/20. In fact even if Bill Russell did not win that MVP 4/13 is still ever so slightly better than 6/20. Fact is Bill Russell was an MVP more of his career than Kareem.
Scoring: I agree that Kareem was a more prolific scorer than Bill Russell. However, as Carmelo Anthony has shown, it matters not how prolific a scorer you are if your team still loses. Fact remains that Bill Russell was more of a winner than Kareem.
Blocks: Pro argues that “in Russell's era players were way more likely to drive to the paint due to no 3 pt line while in Kareem's later career they didn't drive to the paint nearly as often so that is one reason he wouldn't have as many blocks.” We cant really know, as the eras of basketball were very different. On top of that Pro concedes that “Had they counted this stat in Russell's time he'd most likely be 2nd all time to Wilt.” Bill Russell wins this category.
Pro says “Yes Russell won most of the times vs Wilt but Wilt almost always dominated him in their h2h matchup. Just because your team wins doesn't mean your better.”
As I pointed out earlier with Carmelo as the example. Individual effort hardly matters unless it carries your team. Bill Russell was the corner stone of his team, and he carried his team to 11 Championships!
Championships: This is the most important state as all other aspects of the game are to help your team win. You score to win. You rebound to win. You block shots to win. Nobody compares to Bill Russell. Not even the great Kareem. Bill’s 11 to Kareem’s 6. By itself that stat wins. Even more impressive, as I showed last round, Kareem was a champion 30% of his career. Bill Russell was for almost 85% of the time.
Conclusion: This is hardly a contest. While stats are impressive, what really matters are championships. Bill Russell Wins this category almost with no contest. Bill Russell is the GOAT!
Pro says I "didn’t acknowledge many of my points such as of course Kareems myp % will be lower because he played longer.”
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