Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers gathered in front of reporters before the 63rd NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, and was asked for his own personal “Mount Rushmore” of NBA greats. He came up with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Larry Bird. Bryant is an incredible student of the game, and for him to put Bird on the list instead of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is pretty unbelievable.
Bird has nothing on Abdul-Jabbar either statistically or in achievements. Jabbar has six MVPs, six NBA championships and three NCAA championships to go along with being the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. You can make a very strong case that the 19 time All-Star out of UCLA is more accomplished than Jordan.
The thing the hurts Kareem is how introverted he was during his entire career, yet it’s not like Bird was a media darling himself. What also seems to damage his reputation was playing with the most enthusiastic star of all time in Johnson. In a strange way, playing with Magic and being the second name on the marquee tarnished how dominant he was.
For Kobe to leave off a fellow Lakers legend and choose two Boston Celtics can only be described as spacey at best. What separates Jabbar from all of these guys is his longevity — the level of commitment it took for him to play 20 years is unmatched in NBA history. Bryant, if anyone, should understand how difficult that is considering he is trying to close out his own 20-year career. As of right now, he is struggling to get there.
In fairness, Bryant went on to mention how it is nearly impossible to only put four guys on his mountain, which leads one to believe he might have just simply forgot about “The Captain.” Yet, that has been an all-too-frequent problem with Abdul-Jabbar’s legacy — people keep “forgetting” him when not just listing the greatest of all time, but even the greatest centers of all time.
Someone’s personality or lack of access given to the media during one’s career shouldn’t penalize what a player did on the court, which is all that matters. Kareem dominated an entire decade (70s), and that alone should put him on the NBA’s “Mount Rushmore.”