Kareem Abdul-Jabbar quashes his beef with Shaq — not LeBron — on Tuesday night

LOS ANGELES – 1996: Shaqille O'Neal @@#34, Kareem Abdul Jabbar @@#33 and George Mikan.
Shaquille O'Neal, front, poses with Laker greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, top left, and George Mikan in 1996. (NBAE / Getty Images)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sought a chance to smooth a frayed relationship with a Lakers star on Tuesday night.

While LeBron James and Abdul-Jabbar said nice things about each other in the spotlight, their embrace immediately after James broke Abdul-Jabbar's career scoring record lacked warmth. The brief and stilted embrace at midcourt was expected after the former Lakers great criticized James repeatedly for the way he has used his platform, including calling him out for failing to endorse COVID vaccines at a time when the virus was killing a high number of Black Americans.

Yet the former Lakers captain made sure he quashed any hint of a beef with former Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal during his postgame interview on TNT. While Abdul-Jabbar has praised O'Neal since his retirement, O'Neal lamented in a biography and during various interviews he never got support from Abdul-Jabbar during his career.

"I want to tell Shaq, I ask you specifically this evening because you felt that I was ashamed of you or ignoring you — that would never be the case," Abdul-Jabbar said on TNT. "And you showed what you were all about the way you crushed all the centers in the league for a couple of years there. So I'm on your side Shaq, don't ever let anybody tell you anything different."

Lakers star LeBron James, center, poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, left and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Lakers star LeBron James, center, poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, left and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar after becoming the NBA's all-time scoring leader Tuesday during a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Arena. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Shaq responded: "Listen, you not speaking to me was the best thing that happened to my career because all I ever wanted to do was impress you, sir. I will talk to you soon, inshallah, and I love you very much. I will never ever have beef with the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. You ain't got to worry about that."

That prompted Abdul-Jabbar to double down his support for O'Neal.

"That's back at you. I love you, too," Abdul-Jabbar said. "I want you guys to keep impressing the whole world with our game. It's a wonderful game."

O'Neal closed by saying: "Yup, I'll talk to you soon, Cap."

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.