One of my newer websites that I’ve checking out is from the League Ambassadors (www.leagueam.com). The guys are what I call the “new jacks” of the sports paradigm. They educate, debate and juggle the various sports topics of the day. You can holla at them through any of today’s social mediums. On one of their recent shows, they brought up a topic that was intriguing: Mike or Kareem?
This can be a decent debate. Their careers actually did intertwine for five years (84-89). By the time Jordan got to the league, Jabbar had won his six league titles. Jordan took over (sort of) to start his own six year title run.
In the case of these two, timing was truly everything. When Jabbar entered the league, he basically did the same thing that he did both in high school and college: have a impact. He became a top three star (in scoring and rebounding) and after future Hall – of – Famer Oscar Robinson came over, he won the first of his championships. He easily could have been the face of a still fledging league that was still trying to get it’s sea legs.
With Jordan, it was a case of spontaneous combustion. He entered the league at a time when the league was creating it’s identity (led by the Godfather of the league –David Stern). With the help of his swag (which wasn’t really a popular word at the time but you get it) and his boy at the time Charles Barkley, they took the league to an entirely different level in terms of popularity and well, commercialism.
I can see why some would make a case for Jordan. He helped bring the bright lights to the league as well as make it the popular game that it still is. Now, while I won’t make the connection that Jabbar was the Mike before Mike (in part because he didn’t want to be), you can not deny his career achievements as well as his consistency. He was still averaging 23 points a game at age 38. While you have organizations like ESPN having him the greatest player in league history (ahead of Jordan), for me I still like Mike.
I still remember a dream I had when I was getting ready to play my dream pickup game with the greatest players in NBA history and I had first pick. It wasn’t any doubt who my first pick was.
“Give me Magic”.