What did LeBron James have to say about his relationship with Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?
No matter how you cut it, these two Lakers icons don’t seem to like each other and with a record between them, it just might get worse.
Whether in sport or in life friction between one generation and the one that comes after it is quite common, but sometimes things can get extra heated.
The Context: LeBron James can overtake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record
Let’s be honest. If LeBron James stay healthy and has a season that is even moderately close to the one he just came from, which is to say averaging 30 points a night, he will claim the No. 1 spot on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. To be clear, that spot is currently held - for quite some time now - by Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In case you’re wondering, James is just 1,326 points away from the Hall of Famer’s record. With this in mind, one can imagine that there is a high level of anticipation surrounding the ‘when’ not ‘if’ moment.
This of course, brings us to the exchange that James had with reporters following the Lakers’ preseason opener on Monday night. Asked for his thoughts about Abdul-Jabbar and the kind of relationship he had with the Lakers legend and James simply replied with, “No thoughts, and no relationship.”
A change of tune? Why is LeBron James so cold on Kareem Abdul Jabbar now?
The thing that’s interesting here, is the apparent change in vibe. When James was asked back on Media Day about the real possibility of passing Abdul-Jabbar’s record, he was much more forthcoming with thoughts and even praise about the former Lakers star. What gives? “To sit here and to know that I’m on the verge of breaking probably the most sought-after record in the NBA, things that people said would probably never be done, I think it’s just super humbling for myself. I think it’s super cool. Obviously, Kareem has had his differences with some of my views and some of the things that I do, but listen at the end of the day, to be able to be in the same breath as a guy that wore this same uniform,” James said at the time.
“...A guy that was a staple of this franchise, along with Magic [Johnson], Big Game [James Worthy] over there for so many years, especially in the ‘80s, and a guy that does a lot off the floor as well, I think is just super-duper dope, for myself to even be in that conversation.”
What’s the beef between LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?
If you’re wondering how all this started, the supposed conflict between James and Abdul-Jabbar kicked off when the latter took issue with a meme which James posted on Instagram (see it below). In the post James appeared to imply that covid-19 was no different to the common cold or flu. At the time, Abdul-Jabbar said James should be “embarrassed” about “some of the things he’s done.” Interestingly, he would later apologize.
“It wasn’t my intention to criticize LeBron in any way,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “He has done so much for the Black community as well as for the game of basketball. We may not always agree, but I want to wholeheartedly apologize to LeBron and make it clear to him that I have tremendous respect for him. And if he can accept that, I’ll be very happy.” Regardless, we can expect to hear more of these two being linked together as the season goes on. Even more so when James inevitably breaks Kareem’s record. What will happen then, should they be asked to share a stage?