Lakers great Kareem Abdul Jabbar bets on LeBron James
The former Los Angeles Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was candid when it came to LeBron James, but make no mistake he only wants the best for the Lakers.
While his name be amongst those mentioned in the conversation regarding the NBA's GOAT, LeBron James isn't favored by everybody, especially one Lakers legend in particular.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar questions LeBron James
LeBron James found himself in the cross-hairs of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once again on Sunday, when the Los Angeles Lakers legend openly criticized him, saying that he believes the present day Lakers icon should display a greater sense of responsibility in the way in which he conducts himself given the platform he enjoys. "Some of the things he's done and said are really beneath him, as far as I can see," Abdul-Jabbar said prior to the Lakers' game against the Denver Nuggets. "Some of the great things that he's done, he's standing on both sides of the fence almost, you know? It makes it hard for me to accept that when he's committed himself to a different take on everything. It's hard to figure out where he's standing. You've got to check him out every time."
This of course is not the first time that Abdul-Jabbar has had some choice words for James. Present at Sunday's game to present James' teammate Carmelo Anthony with the new Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Trophy - awarded to the NBA's Social Justice Champion, the former Laker has actually been quite outspoken about James on several occasions during this season. Back in December he voiced his displeasure after James celebrated a late 3 pointer against the Indiana Pacers by pronouncing his groin area - a nod to a move popularized by former NBA All-Star Sam Cassell. "For me, winning is enough," Abdul-Jabbar said. "Why do you need to do a stupid, childish dance and disrespect the other team on the court? It doesn't make sense. GOATs don't dance."
Kareem questions LeBron James' covid-19 stance
It was in fact just later that same December, when Abdul-Jabbar publicly criticized James once again, only this time it was directed at the four-time MVP's position - which he posted on social media - on covid-19. At the time James shared a Spider-Man meme to his Instagram account that depicted three identical Spider-Man characters pointing at each other. The accompanying caption read "COVID," "cold," and "flu." James' insinuation that there is no difference between covid-19 and the common cold was simply too much for Abdul-Jabbar to take. He would later take to social media himself where he indicated that he felt James' stance was a "blow to his worthy legacy" because the "implication is that LeBron doesn't understand the difference among these three illnesses, even after all the information that's presented in the press."
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On Sunday Abdul-Jabbar once again made reference to his previous comments about James. "Absolutely, [Abdul-Jabbar has] a higher expectation for him because he understands the issues and spoken to them quite forcefully and eloquently," he said. "I think he has so much going for him in terms of respect and accomplishment and he shouldn't stoop to those moments."
Where do LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stand now?
Where James himself is concerned, the Lakers star was short in his response, seemingly preferring instead to position himself as someone seeking answers, rather than taking a firm stance. "I don't have a response to Kareem at all," James said at the time. "And if you saw the post and you read the tag, you're literally, honestly asking, 'Help me out?' Help me kind of figure it all out. We're all trying to figure this pandemic out."
Abdul-Jabbar for his part opened the door to further dialogue with James admitting that thus far their interactions have been brief. "If he would take the time, I definitely got the time," Abdul-Jabbar said. "I admire the things that he's done that have gotten all our attention. Sending a whole school to college? Wow. That's amazing. His thoughtfulness and willingness to back it up with his wallet, you got to give him credit for that. So I'm not throwing stones. I just wish he wouldn't - you know, some of the things he's done, he should be embarrassed about. That's just where I'm coming from."
What about that NBA scoring title?
Though some might have speculated differently, it would appear that where James' pursuit of the NBA scoring record that Abdul-Jabbar holds - he's done so for some 38 years - there is no problem at all for the Lakers' legend. "I'm all for him doing it," Abdul-Jabbar said. "There's no envy there. ...Just - with the issues I was talking about, things that really affect the Black community, he should be careful. That's all I'm asking."
Kareem vs LeBron? Much ado about nothing!
When all is said and done there is actually no rift between the two Lakers greats. As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said, "Today a reporter asked me a question about LeBron James and I regret my off-handed response which has bee blown out of proportion. For years I've expressed my deep admiration and respect for LeBron as a community leader and athlete. That hasn't changed and never will." With that said, if there is one thing that is clear, its that the Lakers' biggest challenge right now is not with the comments of past stars, but the obstacles of the present. Indeed, the Lakers must find a way to overcome key injuries to key players, as they attempt to improve on less than expected performances and clinch a playoff spot. All we can do is wait and watch!