Kareem Abdul-Jabbar remains firmly planted in the GOAT discussion. The former Los Angeles Lakers great dominated the league throughout his career, earning him recognition as one of the greatest big men. In a hypothetical matchup against fellow Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, Abdul-Jabbar remains quite confident his iconic hook shot would have presented plenty of problems.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s illustrious NBA career
After a highly decorated collegiate career at UCLA, where he won three NCAA titles and three National College Player of the Year awards, Abdul-Jabbar dominated the NBA.
He played 20 seasons, where he firmly planted himself as one of the game’s greatest talents. Abdul-Jabbar won six NBA titles and six regular-season MVP awards and received an NBA-record 19 All-Star game selections and 10 All-NBA First Team nods. He also finished as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
Abdul-Jabbar’s dominance on the NBA hardwood has also led him to hold one strong belief regarding a hypothetical 1-on-1 matchup against Shaquille O’Neal.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is convinced his legendary hook shot would be Shaquille O’Neal’s kryptonite in a 1-on-1 matchup
Abdul-Jabbar and O’Neal are recognized as two of the game’s greatest big men.
Each dominated their era in the NBA, highlighted by sustained championship success. The conversation has often led to a hypothetical matchup between them in their primes. During an interview in early 2019, the six-time NBA champion voiced that he would extensively utilize the hook shot in the dream showdown.
“I don’t know,” Abdul-Jabbar said via Basketball Network. “Shaq is a load. Tough guy around the basket with strength and agility that he had around the basket. He didn’t have much of a shot away from the basket. Four feet away from the basket, he was approaching to being ordinary. I would make him work, shooting a bunch of hook shots that he wouldn’t be able to guard, but who knows. You gotta go out there and put it to the test.”
Abdul-Jabbar made his living behind using his patented hook shot that paved the way for him to become the league’s all-time leading scorer. It’s a virtually unblockable shot that created space between himself and the defender. His size at 7-foot-2 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan made it impossible to defend.
Regardless of O’Neal’s length and size, Abdul-Jabbar would have presented defensive problems for the four-time NBA champion. However, O’Neal’s power and strength would have been far too much for Abdul-Jabbar to handle in the paint.
He was unguardable in the paint during the Lakers’ three-peat to start the 2000s due to his sheer size and physical ability. Each Hall of Famer would have held their own in what would have been an incredibly memorable matchup.
Although it’s hard to single out which all-time great would have had the edge, it would have made for a highly entertaining game.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar remains unbothered by the lack of GOAT consideration
Over the years, Michael Jordan has become firmly fixated in many eyes as the greatest player in NBA history.
It’s led to Abdul-Jabbar becoming overlooked in the discussion due to Jordan’s dominance in the 1990s behind his six NBA titles and six Finals MVP awards in as many appearances. However, it shouldn’t overshadow the former Lakers great’s legacy.
Despite all that, Abdul-Jabbar has never become bothered by being slighted in the GOAT debate.
“The reason there is no such thing as the G.O.A.T is because every player plays under unique circumstances,” Abdul-Jabbar said via USA TODAY Sports. “We played different positions, under different rules, with different teammates, with different coaches. Every player has to adapt to their circumstances and find a way to excel. This isn’t Highlander. There can be more than one.”
Abdul-Jabbar may know his place in NBA history, but that should never see his legacy underappreciated.