NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, on hand to award Los Angeles Lakers star Carmelo Anthony with the first ever Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Trophy ahead of Sunday’s Lakers-Nuggets matchup, was openly critical of LeBron James for several reasons.
He called several things into question, including both on court antics and James’ seemingly back-and-forth stances on different social and political issues.
While speaking with CBS Sports’ Jim Hill, Abdul-Jabbar said, “I’m not gonna be on LeBron’s case, or dragging him down, I just want him to think about what he’s doing sometimes.”
These comments came after more incendiary ones came while he spoke with ESPN, where he said, “Some of the things he’s done and said are really beneath him, as far as I can see. 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.”
This wasn’t the first time that Abdul-Jabbar was critical of LeBron this season, where he defamed James’ crotch-grabbing dance following a three-pointer in a game against the Indiana Pacers in November.
“For me, winning is enough,” Abdul-Jabbar said then, via a Substack video. “Why do you need to do a stupid, childish dance and disrespect the other team on the court? It doesn’t make sense. GOATs don’t dance.”
He also called a social media post of James’ into question, which features a popular Spiderman meme, likening COVID-19 to a common cold and the flu in late December.
“We don’t need to tell LeBron what to do, we just gotta get him to think. He’s an intelligent young man,” Abdul-Jabbar continued while speaking with Hill.
He did retract a bit, saying that in the past James has handled different social situations well, including the infamous “shut up and dribble” conversation.
“When you get your passions evolved, like when someone suggests that he ‘shut up and dribble,’ he came back with the right response,” Abdul-Jabbar said, also noting that what LeBron has done in terms of the “I Promise” High School that James funded in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
“I think his vision is the same as all the rest of us who are educating in the civl rights area,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “Look at him, sending a whole school to college. … I mean, wow. Most schools would jump in the air and click their heels, getting that kind of financial support.”
Thus far, James has yet to make much comment on the continued criticism against his character.
It is worth noting, LeBron is now second all-time in scoring — behind only Abdul-Jabbar — who said he’s welcome to the pursuit, telling ESPN, “I’m all for him doing it. There’s no envy there. … With the issues I was talking about, things that really affect the Black community, he should be careful. That’s all I’m asking.”
Hours later, Abdul-Jabbar issued a tweet declaring that his comments had been “blown out of proportion,” and that he has “deep admiration” for the current superstar.