Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has apologized to LeBron James.
“All I have to say is this: I was there to give Carmelo Anthony the NBA Social Justice Champion Award. I’ve been talking to the press since high school. That’s 60 years of making statements and I haven’t always gotten it right and Sunday was one of those nights,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “It wasn’t my intention to criticize LeBron in any way. He has done so much for the Black community as well as for the game of basketball. We may not always agree, but I want to wholeheartedly apologize to LeBron and make it clear to him that I have tremendous respect for him and if he can accept that, I’ll be very happy.”
Before the Lakers lost to the Denver Nuggets on April 3, Abdul-Jabbar took some shots at LeBron, who has not been made available to reporters by the Lakers since Abdul-Jabbar’s comments due to an ankle injury.
What Did Abdul-Jabbar Say About LeBron?
Abdul-Jabbar was at Crypto.com Arena on April 3 to present Carmelo Anthony with the NBA’s Social Justice Champion Award for the 2020-21 season. During his media session with reporters, the Lakers icon basically ripped LeBron for “standing on both sides of the fence.”
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, Abdul-Jabbar’s two main points of contention with LeBron were the Sam Cassell Dance LBJ used earlier in the season and an Instagram post by the Akron Hammer that suggested he was confused by the difference between the common cold, the flu and COVID-19.
“Some of the things he’s done and said are really beneath him, as far as I can see,” Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron. “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.”
Abdul-Jabbar caught a lot of flack for bashing LeBron, which is why he wrote an email to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times to expand on his comments before he went on SiriusXM NBA Radio.
Abdul-Jabbar to Woike: ‘LeBron Is Still the Daunting Hero’
Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron don’t have a close relationship. While the former has a lot of respect for the latter and regrets some of the things he’s said, the Hall of Famer wants the Chosen One to know that he comes from a place of “love.”
“LeBron is still the daunting hero I described two years ago,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote to Woike. “He’s still a major force in improving lives in the Black Community. He’s still one of the greatest basketball players in history. He’s still a man who has earned the overwhelming admiration of millions. And every day he goes out and proves why he deserves that admiration.
“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. 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. The Sports Illustrated article was an homage to LeBron for winning the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award for his role in social activism. So, when I think he may be veering from the path that made him win that award, I’ll mention it. I’m a journalist. That’s what I do. But I believe LeBron is strong enough and gracious enough to understand that I have only love for him in my heart.”
LeBron is on pace to pass Abdul-Jabbar as the leading scorer in NBA history next season. It will be interesting to see if the two interact before then.