Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has finally opened up on how he felt when LeBron James broke his all-time NBA career scoring record earlier this month, revealing that he’s ‘pretty glad’ that his role in it is now over.
For 38 years, no other basketball player in the U.S. had come close to overtaking the legendary Laker’s 38,387 points in the league until the 38-year-old James labored to surpass him in his 20th season in the NBA.
‘The King’ scored 38 points against the Oklahoma City to become the league’s No. 1 top scorer on February 7, with Abdul-Jabbar sitting courtside at Crypto.com Arena to watch the historical accomplishment, which he knows all about himself after passing Wilt Chamberlain as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer on April 5, 1984.
‘How did it make you feel?’ asked Sarah Silverman on the latest episode of The Daily Show on Wednesday.
‘I’d like to say, I am pretty glad that my role in it was finished,’ replied the 75-year-old Abdul-Jabbar. ‘You know, but Lebron worked real hard for it. He deserves it. He has spent his adult life as a premier athlete and done an exceptional job at it.’
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he’s relieved that the NBA all-time scoring record has been broken
Abdul-Jabbar was in attendance for the Lakers-OKC game when Lebron James broke his tally
‘And his heart is in the right place,’ he added. ‘I don’t know, you may or may not know how he sent a whole school district to college. A whole lot he can be doing with that tuition money, you know? He could be on his own island.
‘But that is where his heart is. So I got a lot of respect for him. I wish him well.’
In the wake of James’ new milestone, Adidas decided to honor Abdul-Jabbar for his accomplishments both on and off the court by releasing a limited-edition sneaker collection, called ‘Evolution of Excellence.’
Abdul-Jabbar, who is the only player to feature as a member of the NBA’s 35th, 50th and 75th Anniversary All-Time teams, wore adidas Superstars during his 1979-1980 season with the Los Angeles Lakers, which ended with a second NBA title and a sixth MVP award for the former big man.
Meanwhile, James is on pace to eclipse the 40,000-point mark next season and is under contract with the Lakers for one more season after that as well.
And even then there’s no guarantee that he won’t continue playing; he has said many times he would like to stay in the NBA long enough for his son, LeBron James Jr. – he goes by ‘Bronny’ – to get to the league, something that won’t happen until 2024-25 at the earliest.
The closest player currently in the NBA to James on the all-time list is Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant, who has 26,684 points and just sought a move away from the Nets to the Phoenix Suns before the end of the NBA’s Trade Deadline last Thursday.
Durant, 34, would probably have to play at least another six or seven seasons just to catch Abdul-Jabbar’s mark — and who knows how far James will raise the bar by then.
James shoots the basketball to break Abdul-Jabbar’s all time scoring record of 38,388 points
Abdul-Jabbar’s record stood tall for 38 years after he overtook Wilt Chamberlain’s 31,419 pts
Philadelphia’s James Harden, 33, and the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook, 34, are just over 24,000 points apiece.
Both of them are all-time greats, but their chances of catching up to ‘The King’ are rather slim.
Dallas’ Luka Doncic is averaging 27.4 points per game so far in his career. But for as great as the Slovenian is, he’ll need to average that many points for another 14 seasons or so before he gets to the 38,000-point mark.
So unless the NBA adds a 10-point shot, the record won’t be broken for a very, very, very long time.