Kareem Abdul-Jabbar After Record Was Broken: LeBron James Has Dominated This GameFebruary 8, 2023
After watching his career NBA scoring record fall Tuesday night at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar heaped praise on new record holder LeBron James.
In an interview with TNT (h/t ESPN's Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk), Kareem lauded LeBron for his dominance, leadership and other qualities:
"LeBron's career is one of someone who planned to dominate this game. And it's gone for almost 20 years now. You have to give him credit for just the way he played and for the way he's lasted and dominated. He has that indefinable essence that they call leadership."
James set the record late in the third quarter of L.A.'s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on a fadeaway jumper, eliciting a massive reaction from the live crowd:
That put James one point ahead of Abdul-Jabbar with a total of 38,388 points, and he finished the game with a career mark of 38,390 points thanks to a 38-point performance against OKC.
During a 20-year NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar was a 19-time All-Star and played in 1,560 regular-season games.
It was difficult to envision another player matching his longevity and quality of play over two decades, but LeBron has done it, matching Kareem's mark of 19 All-Star nods in 20 seasons and breaking the scoring record in 150 fewer games played.
James owns a career scoring record of 27.2 points per game, and despite being 38 years old, he is remarkably outpacing that average this season with 30.2 points per contest.
If that scoring average holds, it will be the third-highest of LeBron's illustrious career, putting him on a pedestal that few players reach at this point in their career.
Even Abdul-Jabbar had slowed considerably by his 20th year in the league, averaging a career-low 10.1 points per game in 1988-89.
By contrast, LeBron has shown no signs of dropping off, and his play this season suggests he could continue to play at a high level well into his 40s, much like legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady did before recently retiring at 45.
Despite how closely linked they are in Lakers and NBA history, Kareem and LeBron haven't always seen eye to eye.
Last year, Abdul-Jabbar criticized James for his celebration after hitting an overtime three-pointer against the Indiana Pacers, calling it "childish" and an act of "disrespect."
He also spoke out about LeBron sharing a meme in which it was suggested that COVID-19, the flu and the common cold were all the same thing.
Despite their differences, Abdul-Jabbar was on hand for Tuesday's historic moment, and he symbolically passed the torch to James by taking some on-court photos with him.