Few players’ impacts on the basketball world compare to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Like many, he began his career playing at college level, and he immediately looked destined for the sport’s pinnacle. Throughout his career, the seven-foot-two centre towered above his competitors, and now his legacy is doing the same. So, let’s take a look at where it all began for Abdul-Jabbar and consider if he’s the most complete basketball player of all time.
Taking his College Form into the NBA
In hindsight, there can be no doubts that the 73-year-old is one of the finest players to grace the court. Abdul-Jabbar began to hit the heights during the late-1960s. Between 1966 and 1969, the centre played a combined 88 games for UCLA Bruins. During that time, he averaged 26.4 points and 10.7 field goals. When the seven-foot-two athlete joined UCLA, the Bruins were two-time NCAA Division I men’s basketball champions. By the time he left for the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969, they’d added a further three titles to their collection.
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While Abdul-Jabbar was with UCLA, they enjoyed a record of 88 wins and two defeats. This unprecedented run of form took them to three consecutive titles between 1967 and 1969. The 73-year-old’s point-scoring average over this period remains the highest college average of all time. Not only that, but Abdul-Jabbar also has the highest-scoring season average at 29.0 points per game, as per Bleacher Report.
By comparison, Michael Jordan’s best college scoring figures were 20.00 per game. The 58-year-old is undoubtedly one of the best NBA players of all time, but his NCAA figures fall short of Abdul-Jabbar’s records. Moreover, while the 73-year-old has three NCAA titles to his name, Jordan only has one.
The Search for the Next Abdul–Jabbar:
It’s a testament to Abdul-Jabbar’s transition to the NBA that he is joint-tenth in the list of players with the most championships. Between 1971 and 1988, the centre won six NBA titles, five of which came with the Los Angeles Lakers throughout the 1980s. The New York-born player was at the forefront of the Lakers’ achievements and is currently the all-time leading NBA points scorer with 38,387. While it’s unclear if Abdul-Jabbar will hold that record for much longer, particularly with LeBron James closing in, it speaks volumes about how effortlessly he transitioned to the NBA from college basketball.
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The Tower from Power perfectly illustrates why NBA scouts pay close attention to March Madness; you may uncover the next all-time great basketball star. In 2021, Gonzaga are the favourites to win the tournament, but the event is notoriously unpredictable. This blog post from Betway states that the chances of correctly guessing the outcome of every game are 9.2 quintillion to one. Moreover, those seeking the perfect bracket are 36 times more likely to become a professional NBA player.
The Numbers Speak for Themselves
Although James and Jordan commonly dominate the all-time great discussion, it’s not absurd to suggest that Abdul-Jabbar is the most complete basketball player in the sport’s history. Combined, the seven-foot-two centre has nine championships to his name and the most points of any NBA player. Irrespective of whether he’s definitively the all-time best, he’s undoubtedly in the conversation.