Tuesday night will be remembered by the basketball history books as the one in which one of the most iconic marks not only in basketball, but in sports in general was broken: the most points scored in an NBA duel, which had been held by former Los Angeles Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar since 1984.
The awkward meeting of two superstars
When LeBron James broke Kareem’s record at Crypto.com Arena, the two met at mid-square to honor and recognize the new record holder, but for those who saw it, it was an awkward encounter. And he has his reasons for it being awkward.
King James’ has stated that he and Kareem have no relationship whatsoever, and if we add to that the fact that the latter has criticized LeBron, an awkward encounter like Tuesday’s was to be expected.
But Kareem himself has clarified why this is happening: “LeBron said we don’t have a relationship. He’s right, and for that I blame myself,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote in a Substack article.
“Not for anything I did, but perhaps for not making more of an effort to get closer to him. By nature, I’ve never been a friendly, reach-out guy (as the media was always quick to point out). I’m quiet, shy and so homely that anyone would say I have agoraphobia.”
“I like to read, watch TV and listen to jazz. That’s about it. In the last 15 years I’ve focused less on forming new relationships than on cultivating my old friendships with people like Magic, Michael Cooper, Jerry West, etc.”
He acknowledges that he could have done more for the relationship
“That disconnect is on me. I knew the pressures I was under, and maybe I could have helped alleviate them a little bit,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “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 would want to hang out with someone twice his age. How many do?” he concluded.