Julius "Dr. J" Erving and his Philadelphia 76ers were the Showtime Lakers' first big postseason rival. The Sixers faced off against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and the rest of your Los Angeles Lakers in three NBA Finals over the course of four seasons, losing their first two matchups in 1980 and 1982. Thanks to the addition of Moses Malone, Erving finally broke through and swept L.A. to win his lone NBA title in 1983. To be fair, Erving also won two ABA championships while playing for the then-New York Nets.
Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports Network tweets
“People always make comparisons to people who are done. LeBron may play another six years LeBron may play one year we don’t really know… It’s very subjective.”
Current Lakers superstar LeBron James is about to lace up his sneakers to kick off his 20th NBA season, and has not shown a lot of signs of letting his foot off the gas. Though he is no longer quite the athletic force or the All-Defensive Teamer he was in his prime, the 37-year-old remains a clear All-NBA talent.
After spending 15 remarkably healthy seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers, James's injury luck took a turn for the worse in L.A. He has missed 26 or more games in three of his four Lakers seasons. That said, last season the 6'9" forward averaged a career-best 30.3 points a game, on .524/.359/.756 shooting splits, along with 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists a night. So it seems like he's still got plenty of basketball left to play, and that could include setting the all-time NBA regular season record in the next year or two.
An 18-time All-Star, James has won four NBA titles amidst 10 Finals appearances, plus four MVP awards. He was named Finals MVP in each of his four victories. James is a 13-time All-NBA First Team selection, a three-time All-NBA Second Team honoree, and a two-time All-NBA Third Teamer. He has also made five straight NBA All-Defensive First Teams and one All-Defensive Second Team. He boasts career averages of 27.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.4 assists, with a slash line of .505/.346/.734. So, you know, he's pretty good.
But LeBron James was not Dr. J's pick for the game's all-time best. Although he did select a Laker.
“I think it’s the fans argument, not the players argument. So I stay away from it. My all time greatest player is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.”
The man they called "Cap" enjoyed a 20-season NBA career, in an era where even the All-Stars didn't usually make it past 15. During his time in the league, the 7'2" center won six NBA titles in his 11 Finals appearances, was awarded a league-record six MVP awards. Abdul-Jabbar was named Finals MVP twice, though he had a legitimate claim to it in 1980. The big man was named to 10 All-NBA First Teams and five All-NBA Second Teams. He was a five-time All-Defensive First Teamer and a six-time All-Defensive Second Teamer. He was a 19-time All-Star.
The UCLA alum's points tally of 38,387 currently makes him the NBA's all-time regular season scoring leader, though James is right on his heels. Abdul-Jabbar sports career averages of 24.6 points on 55.9% field goal shooting and 72.5% free throw shooting, plus 11.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
You can't really go wrong either way. The other two players in the GOAT conversation, Chicago Bulls shooting guard Michael Jordan and Boston Celtics center Bill Russell, have plenty of defenders as well.
Other Lakers greats like Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlin, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor can all reasonably stake a claim to a spot in the all-time NBA top 15.