LeBron James

‘LeBron Makes Me Love the Game Again': Kareem Shares His Thoughts on NBA Scoring Record

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was courtside Tuesday when LeBron James broke his all-time NBA scoring record, a mark that stood for nearly 40 years.

LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers poses for a photo with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Hours after LeBron James hit a history making step-back jumper late in the third quarter of Tuesday's game in downtown Los Angeles, the man whose long-standing record was broken publicly shared his thoughts in detail.

In an article posted to his Substack titled "What I Think About LeBron Breaking My NBA Scoring Record," former Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar described his relationship, or lack thereof, with James, and what it means to him now that someone finally eclipsed a record he set nearly four decades ago.

"Bottom line about LeBron and me: LeBron makes me love the game again," Abdul-Jabbar wrote. "And he makes me proud to be part of an ever-widening group of athletes who actively care about their community."

Abdul-Jabbar was seated along a baseline for Tuesday's game at Crypto.com Arena against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Cameras frequently returned to the 75-year-old dressed in a black adidas Evolution of Excellence jacket as James chipped away at the record he held since 1984.

That's the same year James was born.

"When he started to make a name for himself, I was already pretty removed from the NBA world," Abdul-Jabbar wrote. "Except for certain gala events, I was just like any other fan, watching games on my TV in my sweatpants while munching on too many unhealthy snacks.

"That disconnect is on me. I knew the pressures he was under and maybe I could have helped ease them a bit. But I saw that LeBron had a friend and mentor in Kobe Bryant and I was just an empty jersey in the rafters. I couldn’t imagine why he’d want to hang with someone twice his age. How many do?"

Abdul-Jabbar joined James on the court for a photo with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. The two Lakers shared a handshake and hug on the court during a celebration after James scored the 38,388th point of his illustrious career.

Photos: All the Celebrities in Attendance at Lakers Game to Watch LeBron James Make History

Abdul-Jabbar, a critical part of the John Wooden-era UCLA dynasty and the Showtime Lakers, broke the NBA all-time scoring record April 5, 1984, passing Wilt Chamberlain with a skyhook from the baseline. He played five more seasons and extended his record by almost 7,000 points.

For nearly 40 years, that record stood the test of time.

Michael Jordan (32,292) and Karl Malone (36,928) both passed Chamberlain, but their careers ended well before they could get within striking distance of Abdul-Jabbar. Another Lakers great, Kobe Bryant, finished less than 5,000 points from the record, his pace slowed by injuries late in his career.

Describing himself as a homebody who reads, watches TV and listens to jazz, Abdul-Jabbar said his focus has been on "nurturing" friendships more than making new ones, social activism, his writing and family.

"The only time I ever think of the record is when someone brings it up," he wrote. "I retired from the NBA 34 years ago. For the past 20 years, I’ve occupied myself with social activism, my writing career, and my family—especially my three grandchildren. If I had a choice of having my scoring record remain intact for another hundred years or spend one afternoon with my grandchildren, I’d be on the floor in seconds stacking Legos and eating Uncrustables."

James finished the night with 38 points in a Lakers loss.

Contact Us