Pat Riley: Kareem Is The GOAT, Not LeBron

Videos by OutKick

Life is tough these days for LeBron James.

His Lakers team has been abysmal in recent years. When he’s not pouting on the bench, he’s arguing with fans at least once a week it seems.

And now his former coach doesn’t even have his back.

Pat Riley – who coached James for four seasons recently said that Kareem Abdul-Jabaar is in fact a better player than LeBron. Ouch, I hope LeBron can recover.


“I always said that Kareem was the greatest player of all time because of his longevity,” the Hall of Fame coach told ESPN.

“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 said. He later added, “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.”

The Milwaukee Bucks selected Kareem with the first round pick in the 1969 draft. He played with them until moving to the Lakers in 1975 where he played until 1989. His entire career spanned 21 years.

Perhaps most important to Riley’s longevity argument, Kareem was still a contributing factor that delivered where it mattered the most – in Championships. Winning 3 of his 6 Championships in 1985, 1987 and 1988 – when he was 38, 40 and 41 years old!

In comparison, LeBron is currently 38 and is a 4x Champion. However, if you’ve seen what the Lakers look like in recent years – and DEFINITELY this year, they aren’t going anywhere. James is currently in the first year of a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension that will see him in Los Angeles through the 2024-2025 season. It’s unclear how long he’ll continue playing.

(Photo: NBA.Com)


The argument over who is the GOAT when it comes to basketball players is nauseating and endless. Some argue Wilt Chamberlain, while others say without a doubt it’s Michael Jordan. Younger people, as well as all of Cleveland believe hands down it has to be LeBron – mainly because they don’t remember how good Jordan actually was.

You add the fact the game changed throughout the decades from Wilt to Kareem to MJ to LeBron to whoever’s next and rightfully so it can be difficult to navigate these waters.

But it really shouldn’t be.

The answer is Michael Jordan.

How do I know?

Because last month the NBA renamed its Most Valuable Player trophy award to… the Michael Jordan Trophy.

Sorry Kareem. Sorry LeBron. Facts are facts.

In fact, Riley may even be more partial to Jordan than he lets on. When he was the Heat team president, Riley retired Jordan’s No. 23 jersey even though he never played for the team. Riley called Jordan, “the best” at the time. It’s also the first time that a player has ever had their number ever retired by a franchise they never played for.

Regardless of Riley’s affection for Jordan and Kareem, one thing is for certain – if we’re talking GOATs, LeBron’s not on his list.

(Photo Credit: Twitter)

Written by Mike Gunzelman

Mike “Gunz” Gunzelman has been involved in the sports and media industry for over a decade. He’s also a risk taker - the first time he ever had sushi was from a Duane Reade in Penn Station in NYC.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply