Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is cementing himself as one of LeBron James’ No. 1 critics. Recently the Hall of Famer shared with the media what he deems as the superstar doing things “really beneath him.”
Abdul-Jabbar was present for the Los Angeles Lakers’ 129-118 loss to the Denver Nuggets, where he gave Carmelo Anthony the 2021 Social Justice Champion award. However, he also revealed to the media more of his innermost thoughts on the “King.”
The Captain Speaks
“Some of the things he’s done and said are really beneath him, as far as I can see,” Abdul-Jabbar said to reporters before the game. “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.”
Abdul-Jabbar has held James to a standard that he feels the star hasn’t met yet. He is not unfamiliar with being on the global stage and can be considered one of the pioneers of social activism.
Today a reporter asked me a question about Lebron James and I regret my off-handed response which has been 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. –@kaj33 https://t.co/QEWed5YovX
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) April 4, 2022
The iconic moment of The Cleveland Summit, wherein 1967, a then-Lew Alcindor joined a cavalcade of sports stars ranging from Muhammad Ali to Jim Brown. It was held in Brown’s Negro Industrial and Economic Union offices, and although the purpose is debatable, the impact of the imagery has persisted.
However, for the “Captain,” James isn’t respecting the stewardship his athleticism now commands.
“I admire the things that he’s done that have gotten all of our attention,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “You know, sending a whole school to college. Wow, that’s amazing. It’s his thoughtfulness and willingness to back it up with his wallet; again, you’ve got to give him credit for that.
“You know, so I, you know I’m not throwing stones. I just wish, some of the things he’s done he should be embarrassed about. Like that’s just where I’m coming from.”
Lebron James is a little over 1,000 points shy of defeating Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA all-time scoring leader title, but the legend says that record encroachment has nothing to do with his outlook on James.
Two NBA legends.
LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stand at the top of the all-time scoring list 🙌 pic.twitter.com/RGmpjzVCd6
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 20, 2022
No Bad Energy
“Well, I think it’s about time,” Jabbar said to Malika Andrews during the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets game. “I’m not going to get jealous of LeBron; you know he’s earned it. So to see him go through all of this and end up being the top scorer is a pretty neat thing and I’m sure all the fans will enjoy it.”
Abdul-Jabbar walked virtually alone during his time as an NBA force of nature and was canonized for his fortitude. However, his era was devoid of social media and a world sanitized of a plethora of everyman opinions.
A Generational Curse
Abdul-Jabbar’s wish is that LeBron James will curtail the part of him that is at odds with the parts we celebrate, but that is a personal decision. With James flexing his humanity on all cylinders and a staunch fighter of the “shut up and dribble” mentality, James is unapologetic about revealing all his thoughts, not just the charitable ones.
The question is whether the generational gap is a factor in Abdul-Jabbar’s perception of James’ responsibility.