NBA: Losing scoring title to LeBron will be a ‘bitter pill’ for Kareem, says Magic
LOS ANGELES—Lakers’ forward LeBron James is on track to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer this season and when he does it is unlikely to sit well with the Hall of Fame center, Magic Johnson said.
James needs 1,244 points to eclipse Abdul-Jabbar, who has held the record since April 1984.
“I don’t think well,” Johnson said when asked in a podcast how he thinks Abdul-Jabbar will handle losing the title he has held for nearly four decades.
“Let’s be honest. And the fact that it’s a dude playing for the Lakers too. It’s a dude playing in LA. I think it will be a hard pill to swallow.”
Abdul-Jabbar, a six-time champion and six-time MVP whose signature “skyhook” shot was nearly unstoppable, is sometimes unfairly overlooked in conversations over the greatest ever to play the game but his advocates have always been able to point to the scoring title.
Johnson said Abdul-Jabbar probably never believed anyone would surpass his total of 38,387 regular season points.
“I think he thought he was going to have it forever,” Johnson said.
James raised eyebrows earlier this month when he was asked about his thoughts on potentially passing Abdul-Jabbar and his relationship with him and offered a short and frosty reply.
“No thoughts and no relationship,” James said.
Abdul-Jabbar, who like James is a vocal advocate for social justice causes, criticized James when he said that getting the COVID-19 vaccine was a personal choice. He has also called some of James’ on-court celebrations “stupid and childish.”
Johnson said he wishes the pair had a better relationship and believes they will come together down the road.
“I think that one day that’s going to happen, and if I can play a part in that, I would love to,” Johnson said.
“But let him pass him first. Let that soak in for a minute, and then put the two men together because they are going to find out they are similar.”