Kareem Abdul-Jabbar presented Carmelo Anthony with the NBA’s inaugural Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award on Sunday ahead of the Lakers game against the Nuggets on ABC, and spoke with the media prior to tipoff about a variety of things, including his criticism of LeBron James this year.
Abdul-Jabbar has, on a few occasions this season, called out James for things he’s said or done, most notably his post seemingly downplaying the incision of the COVID-19 pandemic — Kareem also didn’t like LeBron doing the Sam Cassell “big balls” dance after a big three in Indiana.
On Sunday, Abdul-Jabbar elaborated further on why he has taken James to task for those comments and actions, noting that LeBron deserves to be held to a higher standard in a large part due to the great things he’s done off the court and, as Kareem says, that he clearly understands many of these bigger issues (via Dave McMenamin of ESPN).
“Absolutely, [Abdul-Jabbar has] a higher expectation for him because he understands the issues and spoken to them quite forcefully and eloquently,” he said. “I think he has so much going for him in terms of respect and accomplishment and he shouldn’t stoop to those moments.”
Kareem has been consistent regarding his disappointment and displeasure with prominent athletes spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19, similarly penning a scathing op-ed aimed at Aaron Rodgers. While James insisted his initial Spiderman meme post was an honest question, Kareem said he’s only spoken to LeBron briefly since but offered to speak with him further and take the time explain to his stance.
“If he would take the time, I definitely got the time,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “I admire the things that he’s done that have gotten all our attention. Sending a whole school to college? Wow. That’s amazing. His thoughtfulness and willingness to back it up with his wallet, you got to give him credit for that. So I’m not throwing stones. I just wish he wouldn’t — you know, some of the things he’s done, he should be embarrassed about. That’s just where I’m coming from.”
Abdul-Jabbar also did a sitdown interview with ESPN’s Malika Andrews and was asked about James potentially passing him as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and said it’s “about time” someone did.
Kareem on LeBron getting close to breaking his scoring record “I think it’s about time…I’m not going to get jealous of LeBron, he’s earned it” pic.twitter.com/3jz6R9xuoL
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 3, 2022
It’d be surprising if James responds to these comments from Kareem publicly in any more detail than he did last time when he shrugged off the criticism — and with him sitting out on Sunday he won’t be speaking postgame — but it’s certainly a pointed critique from a legend in the game, and someone that James surely respects.