LeBron James breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA all-time scoring record feels like an eventuality at this point, but the Los Angeles Lakers star made clear Tuesday it will not be a passing of the torch between friends.
After the Lakers' 105-75 loss to the Sacramento Kings to open their preseason, James was asked about the possibility of breaking Abdul-Jabbar's record this season and if he had a relationship with the Lakers icon.
James' response was frank: 'Nah. No thoughts. And no relationship."
That statement is quite a bit more curt than what James had to say about Abdul-Jabbar just a week ago at Lakers media day, where he acknowledged some disagreements with the legend but was overall reverential:
“To sit here and to know that I’m on the verge of breaking probably the most sought-after record in the NBA, something that people say will probably never be done, I think it’s just super like humbling, for myself,” LeBron said. “I think it’s super cool.
“And you know, 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 right in the same breath as a guy to wear the same [Lakers] uniform, a guy that was a staple of this franchise along with Magic and 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 it’s just super duper dope for myself to be even in that conversation.”
You never know what goes on behind closed doors between NBA stars, but enough has played out publicly between the two that it's not hard to see why their relationship wouldn't be great.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has criticized LeBron James multiple times in public
While James has often presented himself as a social justice leader, Abdul-Jabbar — who is well-versed in the topic — has been an occasional critic of his public persona.
Abdul-Jabbar was vocal when James expressed his support for NBA players being allowed to forego the COVID-19 vaccine, writing "LeBron is just plain wrong—and his being wrong could be deadly, especially to the Black community.”
There was also the time James posted a meme on Instagram implying that COVID-19 is the same as the cold and flu, which caused Abdul-Jabbar to write "LeBron has encouraged vaccine hesitancy which puts lives and livelihoods at risk." James didn't appreciate that.
And there was the time Abdul-Jabbar hit James with a more scattershot criticism by saying "some of the things he’s done and said are really beneath him, as far as I can see" and saying he "should be embarrassed," a statement for which Abdul-Jabbar apologized.
That said, Abdul-Jabbar has also praised James for work such as his "I Promise" school and being an overall positive voice for the Black community. He has also said he is rooting for James to break his scoring record.
LeBron James will likely pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar soon
Funnily enough, James has already scored more points than Abdul-Jabbar in an NBA uniform (read: counting the postseason), but it shouldn't be long before he has the regular season record.
James currently sits at 37,062 career points, 1,325 points behind Abdul-Jabbar's record of 38,387. Even if James played only 56 games his most recent injury-hobbled season, he would only have to average 23.7 points per game to reach the top. James has not averaged that few points since his rookie year.
So it would basically take a career-altering disaster for James to not hold the NBA scoring record when all is said and done. We'll see if he and Abdul-Jabbar can hash things out before he gets there.