Being known as the greatest NBA player of all time or “G.O.A.T.” is well above the Hall of Fame. I already know when I say “G.O.A.T”, the first NBA player that comes to mind for most readers is Michael Jordan. Yes, the man behind the famous shoes from the 80’s and 90’s, six time NBA champion, six time finals MVP, five time NBA Most Valuable Player, 1988 Slam Dunk Champion, 1988 Defensive Player of the Year, which is quite a feat for a guard, but Michael Jordan is not really the greatest player of all time (though many believe Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time). Some might argue William Felton Russell, better known as Bill, is the greatest, because of the numerous untouchable records that he holds. He won eleven championships all as a player and as a coach, and the amazing ways he went about getting them. I can that where most basketball fans ignore the players of the post because of many names left off their lists, such as those of Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul Jabar in favor of present – day greats like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. In the modern era of basketball, the older players are getting lost in the mix of this generations opinions. Bill Russell is especially over looked by the younger generation as the best basketball player ever.
Bill Russell debuted in the NBA on December 22, 1956, well before billion dollar cable TV contracts. The majority of people today base their opinions solely on things they have seen or experienced and for many that only goes back to Michael Jordan. He is still constantly on television and in the media with his endorsements of products such as Hanes underwear or his own shoes. His highlights are frequently replayed on ESPN, and other networks when the commentators compare great athletes. In Russell’s defense, minimal videos of his regular season games. Most of the film that has been archived for Russell is of his many playoff games. When talking on the topic of the NBA championships, most people celebrate Michael Jordan for winning three NBA championships in a row twice. Bill Russell won eight straight championships, the longest winning streak of any player in NBA history.
Defense is not taken into consideration when talking about great players of basketball. Yes, Michael Jordan won an NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in a season where he accumulated exactly: 3.16 steals per game, 1.6 blocks per game, and 5.5 rebounds per game. That 1988 season was the best that he ever had defensively. The only defensive skill he improved on the rest of his career was his rebounding as a whole. Bill Russell’s statistics on the other hand, are a little less accessible. Blocks were not made a statistic until the 1973-1974 seasons. Bill Russell retired after the 1968-1969 season. Many basketball analysts or historians would say that if blocks were being recorded during Bill Russell’s 13 NBA seasons, he would hold almost every block record. Yes, you could say that Michael Jordan was a guard and that he was not in position to get all the blocks were available to Bill Russell because t Michael Jordan was only 6’6. Kareem made 5 All- Nba defesive teams during his 20 seasons.
The debate is does winning contribute to a players prowess of being a the G.O.A.T. If that the case then then Bill wins outright over all but if we take that aspect out of the equation the i have to go with kareem with this one. I say his longevity in the league puts him above all . For gods sake he is the leader in points in the NBA with over 38k and more MVP awards than Jordan .
Being “clutch” is defined in sports as being able to perform well in a very important or critical situation. Kareem was one of the few bigs in history that a coach would allow to take a last shot because he had one move that left the defense speechless.Many would say Michael Jordan made many clutch shots during his career. The most famous of course was “The Final Shot”, the final shot of his career with the Chicago Bulls and in which he first scored in only four seconds remaining in the game, by stealing the ball from Karl Malone after a pass down into the post, and finally stepped back on Brian Russell (no relation to Bill) with 5.2 seconds left in the 4th quarter to win him game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, winning him sixth and final ring. On the other hand, Bill Russell’s clutchness was defined in other ways. Bill Russell was 10-0 in game 7’s and in those games he averaged 18 points per game and 29 rebounds per game. He did some of his work against Wilt Chamberlain who was a solid 7’0 and 276 pounds; while Bill Russell was only 6’9 and 220 pounds. You could give Michael Jordan the benefit of the doubt that he seldom allowed himself to get in a game seven but, in Bill’s case, having his back against the wall 10 times and never losing is impressive.
Teamwork is a very important aspect of winning basketball games. Bill Russell said it best in his response to LeBron James leaving him off his Mount Rushmore of NBA greats saying “Hey, thank you for leaving me off your Mount Rushmore. I’m glad you did. Basketball is a team game, it’s not for individual honors. I won back-to-back state championships in high school, back-to-back NCAA championships in college, I won an NBA championship my first year in the league, an NBA championship in my last year, and nine in between. That, Mr. James, is etched in stone.”Kareem played for the great John Wodden and won 3 NCAA championships what else can you say about that feat.
Bill Russell’s team- mindedness makes him one of the “G.O.A.T.”, not just his rebounding, his clutches in the playoffs, or his 11 NBA championships. Being able to make the people around you better is more important than how many points you can score in a game. You would not be able to tell he was a great team ball player by looking at his stats (4.3 assists a game).Bill Russell used to grab a rebound, pass it to Bob Cousy down the court (who led the NBA in assists eight times) , and finally passing it to John Havlicek (averaged 20.8 points per game ). Russell rarely received credit for starting the now common “fast break” with his precise outlet passes that lead to scores. Michael Jordan did once average 8 assists a game. Jordan was known for calling out teammates if they did not play up to his potential such as with Steve Kerr. Kareem led the Bucks to a championship and left there and led the Lakers to a couple more( i know about oscar and magic )
Winning is the last factor of being the G.O.A.T.. The story is widely known of Jordan not making his high school basketball team and, then leading them to the state championship and losing. Next, he went to the University of North Carolina and won a NCAA Championship in 1982 but not in the next season. Next, he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls and won six championships. Then, finally winning two Olympic gold medals in 1984 and 1992 (which was the “Dream Team”). Bill Russell’s story on the other hand, little less lackluster. He won two state championships in high school. Then he won two NCAA championships while at the University of San Francisco. Next, he won 11 NBA championships, two of those as player / coach. Finally, he won a Gold medal during the 1956 Summer Olympic Games. Based on this comparison, Bill Russell was the better winner of the two and, has won at every level of basketball from the high school level to the Olympic level.
In all, both of these players were great in their own rights and i am not a jordan hater , but Bill Russell is obviously the better winner and Kareem would be thought of as a better basketball player. Michael Jordan was more appealing to the crowd with his unbelievable shots and spectacular dunks and benefited from increased media exposure and commercials. On the other hand, Bill Russell averaged 15 points a game and created easy buckets for his teammates. Bill’s unselfishness to sacrifice his stats for NBA gold undoubtedly makes him the G.O.A.T or the greatest of all time ( but hey if you don’t want to acknowledge Bill as the best, Kareem is my close second and his stats can be closely compared with Jordan’s).
WHO IS THE G.O.A.T TO YOU ???