Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Criticizes LeBron James, Says Lakers Star 'Should Be Embarrassed'

Erin WalshApril 3, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 1: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 1, 2022 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar criticized LeBron James on Sunday and said the superstar should be "embarrassed" for some of his actions, including his past comments related to COVID-19 and its vaccine. 

Abdul-Jabbar said his criticism of James stems from his high expectations for the four-time NBA champion's activism. He added that he'd be willing to sit down with James and discuss their differences on things such as vaccine advocacy.

The Hall of Famer said, according to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times:

“I wouldn't mind doing it if he would take the time. I definitely got the time. I admire the things that he's done that have gotten all our attention. Sending a whole school to college? Wow. That's amazing. His thoughtfulness and willingness to back it up with his wallet, you got to give him credit for that.
“So I'm not throwing stones. I just wish he wouldn't — you know, some of the things he's done, he should be embarrassed about. That's just where I'm coming from.”

Later Sunday night, Abdul-Jabbar took to social media to express his regret for his comments:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar @kaj33

Today a reporter asked me a question about Lebron James and I regret my off-handed response which has been blown out of proportion. 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. -<a href="https://twitter.com/kaj33?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@kaj33</a> <a href="https://t.co/QEWed5YovX">https://t.co/QEWed5YovX</a>

He expanded upon his thoughts to the Los Angeles Times, saying he has nothing but "love" for James:

Mark Medina @MarkG_Medina

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with a follow-up statement on his LeBron James criticisms <a href="https://t.co/lO34a2rkWL">pic.twitter.com/lO34a2rkWL</a>

Earlier this season, Abdul-Jabbar criticized James for his comments supporting Golden State Warriors veteran Andrew Wiggins' hesitancy to get the COVID-19 vaccine and for James' comparison of the coronavirus to the flu and common cold. 

James never directly addressed Abdul-Jabbar's comments. 

Despite the criticism, Abdul-Jabbar is still rooting for James to break his NBA scoring record, which he has held for nearly 38 years. 

"I'm all for him doing it," Abdul-Jabbar said. "There's no envy there. ... Just -- with the issues I was talking about, things that really affect the Black community, he should be careful. That's all I'm asking."