Always higher, towards heavens yet presumed inaccessible, LeBron James should become this week the best scorer in NBA history ahead of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, with whom relations are icy to say the least, while everything seems to bring these two closer. legends.
Only 36 units are missing for the “King” to exceed, also in twenty seasons, the 38,387 points of his glorious elder, 75 years old. This crown, which is promised to him, is certainly the most prestigious there is on an individual level.
James admitted last week that he was aware of breaking “one of the greatest records in sport in general, one that you don’t think will ever be broken”. The facts back him up, as that throne has changed hands only once since 1966, when Abdul-Jabbar overtook Wilt Chamberlain on April 5, 1984.
“LBJ” can sit there permanently from Tuesday against Oklahoma City. Otherwise it should be Thursday, still in Los Angeles against Milwaukee. Coquetry of fate: before becoming a monument of the Lakers, “KAJ” was a giant of the Bucks.
In the never-ending debate over who the “GOAT” is, the greatest player of all time, it’s commonly played out between Michael Jordan and James, although Abdul-Jabbar remains in the discussion. However, these last two have so much in common, excellence over time, in the fight against racial injustice, that the parallel between them is much more obvious.
– Exemplary –
In twenty seasons, they each played ten finals, “KAJ” winning six titles, “LBJ” four. They will have been able to remain dominant despite the passage of time. And if the first declined only after the quarantine, the second is still at the top of his game at 38 years old.
“LBJ” spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to stay in top shape, surrounded by cooks, dietitians, coaches, personal massagers…
A follower of yoga, “KAJ” had imposed a strict diet on himself after converting to Islam, also advised by Bruce Lee, who had become his friend during the filming of “Game of Death”.
The cinema also brings them together, since James played in “Space Jam 2”. Abdul-Jabbar had gained popularity in the comedy “Is there a pilot on the plane?”.
Or Kareem, child of the civil rights movement, dragged an image of austerity. Passionate about jazz, his stoicism passed for rigidity, he avoided the media he distrusted.
James supports much stronger media pressure, which he controls even on social networks. When he is not relaying the latest Drake, he is the first to denounce racial injustice. And gets his hands on the wallet: to found a school, finance aid programs, create an association to encourage blacks to vote.
But all this does not exonerate him from anything in the eyes of Abdul-Jabbar. Because according to him, the place he occupies, the admiration he arouses, oblige him to set an example. However, “some of the things that LeBron has done and said are really beneath him,” he said.
– “No relationship” –
There was that inappropriate gesture from James in November 2021 against the Pacers, which he chambered by touching his genitals. “Why do you need to do a stupid dance, to disrespect the other team?”, had then scolded his eldest.
Some time later, “LBJ”, a vaccine-skeptic, posted an image on Instagram suggesting that there is no difference between Covid, the flu or a cold.
“LeBron is committed to being a leader of the African-American community in the fight against inequality. But his message has dealt a blow to his worthy legacy. He must defend vaccination, which could save thousands of black lives” , Abdul-Jabbar had lectured him.
“KAJ” then apologized. “I berated LeBron when I thought he was letting the community down. But I did it like a big brother offering advice (…) In recent years, my respect and admiration has only grown , because I have seen him defend important causes. I am happy to pass the torch to someone so worthy.”
Words that left James unmoved, stating at the end of December in an icy tone that he had “no thought” for Abdul-Jabbar as he approached his record, adding that, in any case, “there is no no relation” between them.