It’s not a matter of if LeBron James passes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the No. 1 spot on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, it’s when. James sits just 1,326 points away from passing the Hall of Famer and Los Angeles Lakers legend, a milestone that should happen at some point this season given James is still performing at peak levels and is coming off a year in which he averaged over 30 points a night. If he averages around the same amount of points as he did a season ago for the Lakers, James could break the record somewhere in the middle of the season, assuming he stays healthy.
It’s a highly anticipated moment heading into the season, but in regards to LeBron’s thoughts about and his relationship with Abdul-Jabbar, he didn’t have much to say on the matter. Following the Lakers first preseason game Monday night, a reporter asked James what his thoughts were on the Lakers legend and if the two had any relationship, to which LeBron gave a very short answer.
“No thoughts, and no relationship,” James said.
Though James didn’t have much to say in that moment, he divulged a bit more on Media Day when asked about potentially passing Abdul-Jabbar’s record.
“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.
“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.”
Abdul-Jabbar has been critical of James in the past, specifically about comments he made in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic in which LeBron shared a meme on Instagram last year that likened the COVID-19 to the flu or a common cold. Abdul-Jabbar also took issue with LeBron supporting Andrew Wiggins last season after the Golden State Warriors forward was previously resistant to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Abdul-Jabbar said James should be “embarrassed” about “some of the things he’s done,” after which he later.
“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.”
While James and Abdul-Jabbar may not have a close relationship, the two will be inextricably linked over the course of the season as James gets closer and inevitably passes the Hall of Famer for that record.