(tell your old man….Walton…Lanier…up and down the court…hey, we’re in a cockpit! Do we really have to do this again?)

You might have to go back to Bobby Knight suggesting rape victims “just sit back and enjoy it” to pick the last time anyone in the world of sports made a public statement as universally ridiculed as Scottie Pippen’s recently claim that LeBron James would soon supplant Michael Jordan as the NBA’s greatest player of all time.  Amongst those taking umbrage, the league’s all-star scoring leader Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, whose open letter to Pippen in today’s LA Times is less a defense of Jordan and more of a plea for greater historical perspective ;

You obviously never saw Wilt Chamberlain play who undoubtedly was the greatest scorer this game has ever known. When did MJ ever average 50.4 points per game plus 25.7 rebounds? (Wilt in the 1962 season when blocked shot statistics were not kept). We will never accurately know how many shots Wilt blocked. Oh, by the way in 1967 and 68, Wilt was a league leader in assists. Did MJ ever score 100 points in a game? How many times did MJ score more than 60 points in a game? MJ led the league in scoring in consecutive seasons for 10 years but he did this in an NBA that eventually expanded into 30 teams vs. when Wilt played and there were only 8 teams.

In terms of winning, Michael excelled as both an emotional and scoring leader but Bill Russell’s Celtics won eight consecutive NBA Championships. Bill’s rebounding average per game is over 22.5 lifetime, MJs best rebounding years was eight per game (1989). But we will never know exactly how many shots Bill Russell blocked because again, they never kept that statistic while he played. However, if you ask anybody that played against Russell, they will just roll their eyes and say he blocked all the shots he wanted to block in the crucial moments of a game.

“Bill played on a total of 11 championship teams and as you very well know, Scottie,” scolds Jabbar, “the ring is the thing, and everything else is just statistics.”  By that measure, we’ll have to assume Kareem will have no objection when Pippen pens “Robert Horry – Greater Than Jabbar” for an upcoming issue of ESPN The Magazine.