LeBron James made history on Tuesday, surpassing the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
In need of 36 points to break the record, James went for 38 points against the Thunder on Tuesday, knocking down a classic fadeaway jumper late in the third quarter to secure the scoring crown.
Leading up to James' pursuit of the scoring title, there was a lot of talk about how Abdul-Jabbar would feel surrendering his title to LeBron. The Sporting News' Jordan Greer did a deep dive into James and Abdul-Jabbar’s non-existent relationship prior to the moment, and it was a trending topic on social media throughout the night.
Even after the two exchanged a hug before Abdul-Jabbar handed the ball off to James as the new all-time scoring leader, there was still speculation as to how Cap felt about no longer being No. 1.
Abdul-Jabbar wasted no time to clear the air on his feelings toward James and the scoring record, taking to his Substack to address one of the biggest talking points about the evening.
“It takes unbelievable drive, dedication and talent to survive in the NBA long enough to rack up that number of points when the average NBA career only lasts 4.5 years. It’s not just about putting the ball through the hoop, it’s about staying healthy and skilled enough to climb the steep mountain in ever-thinning oxygen over many years when most other players have tapped out,” Abdul-Jabbar began as he praised LeBron.
“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 one.”
Abdul-Jabbar then called out his good friend Magic Johnson for escalating the rumors about his relationship with James and his feelings toward the scoring record, concluding that segment of the article by saying, “Sorry, Earvin. I love you, brother, but this time you got it wrong. I’m not the grump grampa on the porch yelling at kids to stay off my lawn.”
Abdul-Jabbar continued by taking responsibility for his lack of a relationship with James.
“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.
“…That disconnect is on me. I knew the pressures he was under and maybe I could have helped ease them a bit. But I saw that LeBron had a friend and mentor in Kobe Bryant and I was just an empty jersey in the rafters. I couldn’t imagine why he’d want to hang with someone twice his age.”
Last and for all, Abdul-Jabbar made it very clear he is thrilled that James was the player that broke his record, citing a Sports Illustrated article he wrote on LeBron for Sportsperson of the Year in 2020, followed by a heartfelt conclusion to tie a bow on the topic.
“This is all about LeBron doing something no one else has done, about scoring more points than anyone has been able to in 75 years. There are no ‘yeah, buts,’ just praise where it is rightfully and righteously due.
“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,” Abdul-Jabbar signed off.