Basketball Hall of Famer and GOAT Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a recent guest on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and shared some thoughts on the NBA, his legacy and more. Fallon talked about the greatness of Stephen Curry and his three-point mastery, and Abdul-Jabbar agreed that Curry is phenomenal and plays a different game than he did in the ’70s and ’80s. But Abdul-Jabbar made sure Fallon and the audience knew he was no slouch.
“I am still the all-time leading scorer in the NBA,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “And I only made one three-point shot.”
“I am still the all-time leading scorer in the @NBA and I only made one three-point shot.”
–@kaj33 on his legendary career in the NBA #FallonTonight pic.twitter.com/HNwWcglLZk
— The Tonight Show (@FallonTonight) June 21, 2022
Abdul-Jabbar certainly played a different game than Curry, but he was just as dominant, if not more so. As he mentioned, he’s still the league’s all-time leading scorer at 38,387 points. Curry is at 20,064, and despite his lethal three-point shooting it’s highly unlikely he’ll pass Abdul-Jabbar before his career ends.
Curry is the league’s only unanimous MVP, but Abdul-Jabbar is the league’s only six-time MVP.
Abdul-Jabbar along with LeBron James and Michael Jordan are on the short list for greatest player of all-time. What the Bucks and Lakers great accomplished in his 20-year career is unparalleled.
A 19-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA, 11-time All-Defense, six-time champ, six-time league MVP, four-time blocks champ, two-time Finals MVP, two-time scoring champ, and rookie of the year.
Abdul-Jabbar also got a jab in against his old nemesis, the Boston Celtics. Fallon asked what’s the best topping on a hot dog and Abdul-Jabbar proved petty never dies.
“The tears of the 1985 Celtics when they lost to the Lakers in the Finals,” said Abdul-Jabbar.
Sounds like this Kareem Abdul-Jabbar interview on Jimmy Fallon was pretty good pic.twitter.com/MEE6jHhVg6
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) June 22, 2022
For those that don’t remember, after a blowout loss dubbed the “Memorial Day Massacre” in Game 1 of the Finals where Abdul-Jabbar looked cooked, he came back with a game for the ages. He scored 30 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, had eight assists and three blocks, in a 109-102 Lakers win to even the series.
The Lakers went on to win the series in six games, and Abdul-Jabbar was named Finals MVP. The oldest recipient of the award in league history.
Comparing players across eras is really a fool’s errand and something the larger basketball community should stop doing. The game has changed so much over the last 50 years. Inside-out play used to be the dominant style, pace of play fluctuated and the geometry of the floor was different.
The only thing that remains constant is the objective, winning the game. In that regard Abdul-Jabbar is an all-timer and arguably the best.
When his career ends Curry might find himself at or near the top of the career win shares, and WS/48 lists. But he isn’t there yet. That doesn’t diminish the dominance he’s displayed in this era of basketball. He’s changed the way the game is played and the geometry of the floor with his shooting and off ball gravity.
Abdul-Jabbar knows something about changing the game as well. He was so dominant in college they banned dunking. His patented sky hook which he used to score the majority of his 38,387 points is indefensible yet hasn’t been mastered by anyone in the NBA to this day.