Whos the goat in basketball?

What is GOAT in Basketball?

What does GOAT in basketball mean? When it comes to sports, GOAT is an acronym that stands for “Greatest of All Time“. Usually, a GOAT is considered a player who has the highest abilities, the best skills, and multiple individual and team awards.

In this blog, we will discuss what makes a basketball player a GOAT and suggest some players who fit that description.

What Does GOAT Stand for in Basketball?

GOAT in Basketball

As mentioned previously, GOAT in sports stands for a player that is widely considered as greatest of all time.

In basketball, the term “GOAT” mostly refers to a player who is considered to be the best of all time. If you search in Google ‘GOAT in Basketball’, most probably you will get one result – Michael Jordan. Why is that, we will discuss this further

The term GOAT can also refer to a basketball team that is regarded as one of the greatest of all time. One reminiscent of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls team from 1986 to 1998.

What Makes a Player a GOAT in Basketball?

So, what qualifies someone as a basketball GOAT? Many factors come into play, but here are some of the most important reasons why players are frequently referred to as GOATs:


A GOAT has consistently performed well throughout their career. At least for a significant portion of it (e.g., Michael Jordan’s six championships in eight years) or even until the end (e.g., Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s 20 seasons with 19 All-Star Game appearances).

To give an example, LeBron James’s span of 8 consecutive finals, with 3 championships has to be considered an ultimate achievement, or Jordan’s 6 championships in 6 finals, going undefeated in all finals appearances.


A GOAT is also someone who can affect the game by playing multiple positions on the court and be successful at it. This includes being able to play well both offensively and defensively and having a high basketball IQ.

GOATs typically have an all-around game that includes shooting ability, passing ability, defensive prowess, and more – they don’t rely solely on one aspect of their game (such as scoring), but rather excel at everything required by coaches.

All About the Rings!

A GOAT is typically a player who won multiple championships throughout his career, such as Michael Jordan winning six titles between 1991-93 and 1995-98, or Magic Johnson, winning five titles in the 1980s.

GOATS may look beyond individual achievements such as MVP awards with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar winning it 6 times, Bill Russell and Michael Jordan 5 times, etc.

This line cannot go without mentioning the late Kobe Bryant who is one of the greatest scorers in NBA history! Kobe won multiple individual awards, five championship rings, and two Olympic gold medals are also significant accomplishments that help solidify his GOAT status.

GOAT in Basketball

Record Breakers

There are players who have broken records and set new ones while playing the game. GOATs leave an indelible mark on basketball that no one else can match.

For example, Bill Russell is widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time because he won an unprecedented 11 championships in 13 years and retired when he was just 35 years old. Probably a record that will never be broken!


Basketball GOATs would have to have had a significant impact on the game. This could be through their performance on the court, how they changed the game, or simply being an ambassador for the sport.

LeBron James is arguably a GOAT because of how he has influenced every aspect of basketball, from his play on the court to his philanthropic work in communities across America.

Many factors contribute to a player’s status as a GOAT in basketball, but these are some of the most common reasons why players are regarded as the best ever.

As you can see, there is no single, definitive answer to what constitutes a GOAT; it is entirely subjective. Some people value championships above all else, while others believe that being able to play any position and dominate is essential; it really varies!

Field Insider’s Basketball GOAT Picks

There have been many GOATs in basketball history, but some players stand out above the rest.

They’ve had great success and dominance on the court. They’ve set records and broken barriers, and they’re regarded as the best ever by experts and fans alike.

GOAT in Basketball

Michael Jordan

When we say GOAT, usually it refers to one and only Michael Jordan. The six-time champion is widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time!

He had a career-scoring average of 30.1 points per game and still holds the record for most points scored in an NBA Finals game (63).

He was also one of the greatest offensive players of all time, leading the league in scoring for ten seasons. There’s his legacy off the court, from being a Nike global ambassador to his work with charities like The Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Lebron James

King James! It’s enough to go back to the 7th of February 2023, fade away mid-range shot when he becomes the all-time scorer, breaking Kareem’s 38-year holding record! 38,411 points and counting!

He’s won four NBA championships, including leading his team (the Cleveland Cavaliers) back from a three-game deficit against the Golden State Warriors to win Game Seven of the 2016 Finals after trailing by as many as 15 points with less than five minutes remaining!

The Cleveland Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 deficit for the first time in NBA Finals history and brought the city of Cleveland their first championship since 1964.

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson, arguably the greatest point guard of all time, led the Lakers to five championships and was a fantastic passer! To this day, he still holds the record for the most assists in an NBA Finals game (24)! He was also a great scorer, with a career average of 19.0 points per game.

Magic was a 1st pick in the 1979 NBA Draft, 5x NBA champion, 3x MVP, 3x Finals MVP, and part of the 1992 Dream Team! If you think of Johnson, you have to think of one-of-a-kind!

It should be enough to tell that he is referred to as Magic!

Bill Russell

A man with the most NBA championships! Bill Russell won the NBA title 11 times with his Boston Celtics, a record that hardly will ever be broken! An amazing defensive presence, Mr. 11 rings is arguably considered one of the GOATs in basketball!

Russell not only dominated on the court, but his work ethic and dedication set a precedent for future generations of players.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

There’s no kid shooting a skyhook that goes without shouting ‘Kareeem’. Abdul-Jabbar spent 20 years playing in NBA for Milwaukee Buck and Los Angeles Lakers. He was an all-time scorer by the 7th of February when he got passed by Lebron James, scoring a total of 38,387 through his amazing career.

Winning 6 championships, one with the Bucks and 5 with the Showtime Lakers, Kareem definitely deserves a spot in the GOAT debate!

PlayerNBA ChampionshipsMVP AwardsFinals RecordPPG
Michale Jordan6 (1991-1993, 1996-1998)5 ( 1998, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998)6-030.1
LeBron James4 (2012, 2013, 2016, 2020)4 (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013)4-627.2
Magic Johnson5 (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)3 (1987, 1988, 1990)5-419.5
Bill Russell11 (1957, 1959-1966, 1968, 1969)5 (1958, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965)11-115.1
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar6 (1971, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)6 (1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980)6-424.6

Honorable Mentions

It wouldn’t be fair to conclude the text without mentioning some of the greats who changed basketball. Names such as Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, Steph Curry, and Tim Duncan definitely deserved a spot in a GOAT debate or at least a Top 10 players of all time.


Finally, we believe that more than one player deserves the title of GOAT. Arguably, Michael Jordan is considered a GOAT! A new generation will say that it’s LeBron James. Elders will mention Magic’s flashy passes and skills. Many have displayed excellence both on and off the court throughout their illustrious careers.

What are your thoughts on the GOAT debate in basketball? What do you think makes a basketball player a GOAT? Do you have a favorite basketball player who you believe should be crowned the GOAT?


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