Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is widely recognized as one of the greatest players in NBA history. The 7'2'' center and his patented sky-hook dominated the NBA for 20 years and cemented his name in history. Outside of being a fantastic basketball player, Kareem was one of the first athletes to passionately take on social issues and use his fame for the greater good of society. Simply a good man on and off the court. But playing in the 70s and 80s, Kareem had to have that little bit of fire in him to compete and trash talk with his opponents.
Isiah shares a great story
Isiah Thomas had the chance to play against Kareem and the Lakers in several big games, and in the process, naturally, some trash-talking occurred. While talking about Kareem for his edition of NBA's 75 Stories, 'Zeke' shared a funny trash-talking story:
"I remember I was a designated double teamer. We doubled-teamed Kareem every time he touched the basketball. Magic threw it in. My job was to come back and double team...So I come back and I double team. My hands are up I'm like (waving motion). I remember he looks me dead in my eyes and he goes 'Hey is this your man?' He drops it right over my head and Magic lays it up... He was so smart... Every time he walked out on the floor, you knew he would try to give you his best performance."
Isiah Thomas, NBA.com
The ability, calmness, and awareness to dish it up perfectly out of the double-team all while trash-talking the guy guarding you is some special kind of swagger. Kareem maybe wasn't the loudest or most physical player, but he still knew how to embarrass his opponents.
That is why many, including Isiah, consider Kareem to be the greatest player of all time, even in front of Michael Jordan. I mean, the case can be made, especially when you look at the fact he is the leading scorer in NBA history, with 19 All-Star appearances, 15x All-NBA nods, 6x MVPs, 6 Championships, and numerous other accolades. But to each its own.