Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: ‘LeBron makes me love the game again’

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar embraced LeBron James at center court in Los Angeles on Tuesday night after the latter broke his record as the leading scorer in NBA history.

James eclipsed Abdul-Jabbar’s mark of 38,387 career regular-season points on a fadeaway shot with 10.9 seconds remaining in the third quarter of the Lakers’ 133-130 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Within hours, Abdul-Jabbar penned an essay, published on his Substack page, that detailed his appreciation for “The King.”

Abdul-Jabbar opened the post by praising James’ “unbelievable drive, dedication and talent” and also lauded his desire for winning while being a good teammate.

The Basketball Hall of Fame member then addressed his feelings as James pulled closer to the record.

“In the months leading up to LeBron breaking my record, so much was written about how I would feel on the day he sank that record-breaking shot that I had to laugh,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “I’d already written several times stating exactly how I felt, so there really wasn’t much to speculate about.

“It’s as if I won a billion dollars in a lottery, and 39 years later, someone won two billion dollars. How would I feel? Grateful that I won and happy that the next person also won. His winning in no way affects my winning.”

Abdul-Jabbar then focused on former teammate Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who said he felt that the former would have a difficult time watching his record go by the boards. Abdul-Jabbar admitted that may have been the case shortly after his retirement, but not anymore.

“But that ain’t me today. I’m 75. The only time I ever think of the record is when someone brings it up. I retired from the NBA 34 years ago. For the past 20 years, I’ve occupied myself with social activism, my writing career, and my family — especially my three grandchildren.

“… Sorry, Earvin. I love you, brother, but this time you got it wrong.”

Abdul-Jabbar also addressed his relationship with the 38-year-old James … or lack thereof.

“LeBron said we don’t have a relationship. He’s right — and for that I blame myself. Not for anything I did, but perhaps for not making more of an effort to reach out to him,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote.

“By nature I have never been a chummy, reaching-out kind of guy (as the media was always quick to point out). I’m quiet, shy, and am such a devoted homebody that you’d think I have agoraphobia. I like to read, watch TV, listen to jazz. That’s pretty much it. For the past 15 years my focus has been less on forming new relationships than on nurturing my old friendships with people like Magic, Michael Cooper, Jerry West, and so on.”

Abdul-Jabbar closed his post by praising James, both as a basketball player and person.

“Bottom line about LeBron and me: LeBron makes me love the game again. And he makes me proud to be part of an ever-widening group of athletes who actively care about their community.”

–Field Level Media

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