Heat president Pat Riley provided an interesting take in the NBA “Greatest of All-Time” debate this week.
As LeBron James nears the all-time scoring record held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Riley chose one of these players that he has history with to be considered his “GOAT.” Riley worked as an assistant coach for the Lakers during Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career there, and he also was the Heat president while LeBron James was on the squad.
“I always said that Kareem was the greatest player of all time because of his longevity,” Riley said, via ESPN. “Kareem was unique from the standpoint that he could play at a high level, play 80 games a year ... get beat up because of double- and triple-teams and guys just taking shots at him. He just developed this mental toughness along with a great physical body to really last forever.
“We don’t win championships without the greatest player in the history of the game, who had the greatest weapon in the history of the game,” Riley continued. “The skyhook was unstoppable. Last minute of the game, it’s going to one guy. Kareem was the guy, and he’ll always be the guy.”
For clarification, Michael Jordan was also listed by Riley in the “GOAT” conversation, but the president said he would choose Abdul-Jabbar solely for the “longevity” of his career. The irony is that the Lakers legend played for 20 seasons, while James is in his 20th season in the league and doesn’t plan on retiring this offseason.
James currently trails Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record by 177 points, so barring any injuries, the current Lakers star is expected to break the record this season.