Magic Johnson: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James Tension Is ‘Not That Big of a Deal’

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 6, 2022

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 05:  Magic Johnson is seen outside ABC studios on April 5, 2022 in New York City.  (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
Raymond Hall/GC Images

Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson downplayed the likelihood of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's criticism of LeBron James becoming a larger issue for the two giants of the game.

"I think they'll work it out," Johnson said to TMZ Sports. "They'll work it out. It's not that big of a deal. They'll work it out."

Speaking with reporters, Abdul-Jabbar praised James' work away from the court, such as covering the college tuition for students from his I Promise School. However, the Hall of Famer added that James "should be embarrassed about" some of his perceived missteps.

Ben Golliver @BenGolliver

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says he’d be willing to meet Lakers’ LeBron James to discuss their differences on issues like vaccine advocacy: “I admire the things he’s done… Sending a whole school to college, wow, that’s amazing… Some of the things he’s done he should be embarrassed by.” <a href="https://t.co/0QlNMNUXit">pic.twitter.com/0QlNMNUXit</a>

"Some of the great things that he’s done, he’s standing on both sides of the fence almost," Abdul-Jabbar told reporters. "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."

Although the former center didn't specify the issues to which he was alluding, he previously criticized an Instagram post from James in which LeBron appeared to compare COVID-19 to the common cold or flu.

Abdul-Jabbar has since apologized for his recent comments, saying on SiriusXM NBA Radio that "it wasn't my intention to criticize LeBron in any way." He added he has "tremendous respect" for the 18-time All-Star:

SiriusXM NBA Radio @SiriusXMNBA

"I've been talking to the press since high school. That's 60 years of making statements...I haven't always gotten it right and Sunday was one of those nights"<a href="https://twitter.com/kaj33?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Kaj33</a> apologizes to <a href="https://twitter.com/KingJames?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KingJames</a> for his comments over the weekend when he joined <a href="https://twitter.com/TermineRadio?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TermineRadio</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/Jumpshot8?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JumpShot8</a> today <a href="https://t.co/drQLNMmHdI">pic.twitter.com/drQLNMmHdI</a>

In the event this becomes a wider source of discord, Johnson would probably be an ideal intermediary to help achieve a detente.