Lakers Legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Takes Fresh Shots at LeBron James

Abdul-Jabbar spoke before the Lakers lost 129-118 to the Denver Nuggets at home in LA on Sunday

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at The Gordon Parks Foundation 2019 Annual Awards
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at The Gordon Parks Foundation 2019 Annual Awards.
Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty

In Los Angeles to recognize Carmelo Anthony as the NBA’s Social Justice Champion for the 2020-21 season by giving him a trophy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took some shots at the champ’s teammate LeBron James.

Abdul-Jabbar, who has criticized James in the past for his comments about COVID-19 and for posting a meme in December comparing having the deadly virus to having a cold or the flu while the Omicron variant was surging, said the 37-year-old NBA superstar should be “embarrassed” about some of the things he’s done and “be careful” when speaking about issues that impact the Black community.

“Some of the things he’s done and said are really beneath him, as far as I can see,” Abdul-Jabbar said before the Lakers’ 129-118 loss to the Denver Nuggets. “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.”

While perhaps not quite as important an issue, Abdul-Jabbar has also ripped into James for doing a “stupid, childish” dance during a December 2021 game after hitting a big shot against the Pacers in Indiana.

“For me, winning is enough,” Abdul-Jabbar said in a video posted through Substack in early December. “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.”

 James, who missed Sunday’s game against the Nuggets with an ankle injury and will sit out the rest of the season with the Lakers nearly eliminated from playoff contention at 31-47, didn’t immediately respond to Abdul-Jabbar’s latest comments.

In a subsequent email to The Los Angeles Times after his comments began to circulate online, Abdul-Jabbar elaborated on his feelings about James. “On occasion I have chided LeBron when I thought he was dropping the ball when it came to supporting the community. But I did so in the spirit of a loving older brother offering guidance, whether wanted or not,” the 74-year-old wrote in part. “So, when I said that he has done some things he should be embarrassed about, that wasn’t a slam or a barb or even a finger wag, it was me recapping some of what I’d said in the past. I believe LeBron is strong enough and gracious enough to understand that I have only love for him in my heart.”

Abdul-Jabbar also offered somewhat of an olive branch on social media. “Today a reporter asked me a question about Lebron James and I regret my off-handed response which has been blown out of proportion,” he wrote on Twitter. “For years I’ve expressed my deep admiration and respect for LeBron as a community leader and athlete. That hasn’t changed and never will.”

Look for a response to Abdul-Jabbar from James coming soon on a social media account near you.

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