He doesn’t know it YET, but Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and I have beef. This arose today when I read in the digital pages of The Undefeated this sophomore beatnik nonsense about the debate over who the Greatest Of All Time is.
“These GOAT discussions are fun distractions while sitting around waiting for the pizza to be served,” Abdul-Jabbar told The Undefeated. “But they’re on a par with ‘Which superpower would you want most: flight or invisibility?’ Whether I’m included or not in anyone’s list doesn’t matter. I played my hardest and I helped my teammates. That’s the most important thing I walked away with.
“The reason there is no such thing as the GOAT is because every player plays under unique circumstances. We played different positions, under different rules, with different teammates, with different coaches. Every player has to adapt to their circumstances and find a way to excel. This isn’t Highlander. There can be more than one.”
This felt like a personal attack.
As far as I can tell, the question of “who’s better?” forms the fundamental basis of what sports are about, which means that the question, “who is the best ever?” is the ultimate question you can ask about sports, and I can’t fathom a world in which human beings as we know them do watch competitive sports for entertainment, but do not have those arguments.
The first part of Kareem’s quote is great, and he should have stopped there. Because it is fun to have those debates, and that’s all you need to know about it, because there is no point to any of this other than to have fun.
GOAT debates don’t matter and they are never resolved, and that’s why we have them in the first place. So chill out, Kareem.