LeBron James excluded Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from his all-time Lakers starting five list. In defense of the 19-year NBA veteran, putting together a top-5 list is challenging. It’s all a matter opinion.
During NBA Media Week, the four-time MVP was asked by reporters to name his all-time Lakers starting five. “All-time starting five for the Lakers?” James asked.
“I’m going Magic [Johnson] at 1, Jerry West at the 2, Kobe [Bryant] at the 3, myself at the 4 and Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal) at the 5.”
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LeBron James said he would also remove himself from the list in favor of fellow teammate Anthony Davis. “I mean, Shaq is so dominant, man,” continued LeBron. This statement is true.
“I mean, I love Kareem too,” continued LeBron. “I can’t even front on that, but Shaq’s so dominant, we need a big cause I’m playing the 4, so we need a big. A.D. already put himself in the Top 5? Well put A.D. in, take me out.”
LeBron James excludes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from all-time Lakers starting five list
James had to make his list on the spot. So, Lakers fans should probably cut him some slack on this one. Shaq is still a worthy replacement for Abdul-Jabbar. Their career stats are identical.
However, the big difference is free throw shooting, MVPs, and defensive selections. Abdul-Jabbar averaged 72.1% from the line during his 20-year career.
On the other hand, O’Neal shot 52.7% at the free throw line. Both players also retired as two-time scoring champions and Rookie of the Year winners.
In 1,560 career games, Abdul-Jabbar averaged 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2.6 blocks per game. The Hall of Famer won one championship with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971.
Of course, the six-time MVP went on to win five titles with the Lakers (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987–88). Abdul-Jabbar also received five NBA All-Defensive First-Team selections in his career.
Additionally, in 1,207 career games, O’Neal averaged 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.3 blocks per contest. The 15-time All-Star won three championships with the Lakers (2000–02) and one title with the Miami Heat (2006).
Overall, LeBron James has a pretty good all-time Lakers starting five list. Some Hall of Famers are more interchangeable than others. It depends on the position.
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