There have been many superstar players who have graced the NBA with their amazing talent. From Wilt Chamberlain to LeBron James, we can keep naming such players throughout the day. But even among them, only a handful of them have gotten the consideration of being the GOAT.
Surprisingly, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is often omitted from the list. When it comes to having accolades on the court, not many can match the level of Kareem.
But his attitude off the court is what seems to be holding Kareem's name back from the GOAT debate. Not only towards the players as he once criticized Shaquille O'Neal for scoring 61 points in front of him, but also towards fans and journalists.
Renowned NBA analyst Jackie MacMullan recently took up the topic in the most recent episode of her podcast, "The Icons Club". She shared a story that Kareem's longtime teammate Magic Johnson shared with her.
"A young boy and his father approached Kareem after practice and asked if he would pose with them for a photo. He walked passed without so much of an acknowledgment. Magic, embarrassed by Kareem's action offered to take a picture with the kid. Years later, when Magic was trying to line up investors for one of his new business ventures, he had a meeting with a young, deep-pocketed CEO. It was the boy, all grown up, from two decades earlier. He told Magic he kept the framed photo of the two of them on the wall of his office - and then he signed on to invest in Magic's business."
(starts at 11:07)
The story about how Kareem interacted with fans is quite shocking. On the other hand, Magic did the right thing, and it paid off in the long run. Kareem seemed to be more focused on his personal goals and championships than on his relationship with fans and media. That might be the reason why people don't consider him in the GOAT consideration.
Although Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won 6 championships, 5 were with Magic Johnson, who was the leader of the Lakers during that era. This is also the reason why people might don't count him in conversation with Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Magic Johnson.
Considering Abdul-Jabbar is now 74 years old, it is very unlikely that his name will be mentioned in the GOAT debate. But it doesn't take away what he did for the game of basketball and achieved during his NBA career.