Two of the greatest basketball players of all time shared the court Tuesday night in Los Angeles as LeBron James surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
Abdul-Jabbar, who has held the record for more than 38 years, was present and participated in the on-court ceremony after James became the new scoring leader.
While the big two shared a moment on Tuesday night, their relationship over the years has been rocky.
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In October, James was asked about his relationship with Abdul-Jabbar as he neared his record, and the four-time NBA champion didn’t mince words.
«No thoughts and no relationship,» James said.
On Wednesday, Abdul-Jabbar addressed James’ comments and blamed himself.
«LeBron said we don’t have a relationship. He’s right, and for that I blame myself,» Abdul-Jabbar wrote Wednesday in a Substack article. «Not because of anything I did, but maybe because I didn’t make more of an effort to get closer to him. By nature, I’ve never been a friendly and talkative guy (as the media was always quick to point out). I’m quiet, shy, and I am such a devoted homebody you would think I have agoraphobia.
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«I like reading, watching TV, listening to jazz. That’s about it. For the last 15 years, my attention has been less on forming new relationships than on nurturing my old friendships with the likes of Magic, Michael Cooper, Jerry West, etc. in.»
Kareem, 75, pointed to the age difference between the two, saying he was already «pretty far removed» from the NBA world when James, now 38, came onto the scene.
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«That disconnect is up to me. I knew the pressures I was under, and maybe I could have helped ease them a bit,» Abdul-Jabbar continued. «But I saw that LeBron had a friend and Mentor at Kobe Bryant, and i was just an empty t-shirt in the rafters. She couldn’t imagine why she would want to hang out with someone twice her age. How many do?»
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Abdul-Jabbar criticized James during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying James «encouraged vaccine hesitancy» after sharing a meme on Instagram questioning the difference between COVID, the flu and the common cold.
But Abdul-Jabbar praised James on Wednesday, saying in the Substack article that he was «delighted» that James broke his record.
James became the all-time scoring leader late in the third quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, knocking down a faded jumper for his 36th point of the night.