Kareem Abdul-Jabbar praised LeBron James after he vaulted to the top of the NBA’s all-time scorers list on Tuesday night, saying that surpassing the record he set nearly 40 years ago was a testament to James’ mastery.
Abdul-Jabbar was seated courtside to witness James reach the mountaintop during the game in Los Angeles and rose to his feet and applauded when James’ record-setting fadeaway jumper splashed through the net. “LeBron’s career is one of someone who planned to dominate this game,” Abdul-Jabbar said.
“He got out of high school. He had the size and the talent to step right into the NBA and he immediately started to have his effect. And it has gone on for almost 20 years now. “So I think that you have to give him credit for the way he planned to last and to dominate.”
More than James’ ability to score from anywhere on the court it is the four-time champion’s ability to lift his teammates that makes him special, Abdul-Jabbar said. “He led teams to world championships. They didn’t get there because of someone else and LeBron tagged along. LeBron led them.
“He has that indefinable essence that they call leadership. He gets out there on the court and tries to get things done and guys get behind him because they have that much respect for him and his talent.” Despite some frosty exchanges between the pair in the past there was nothing but love between them on Tuesday, with James going out of his way to praise the Hall of Famer from the court when the game was stopped to celebrate his accomplishment.
“To be able to be in the presence of such a legend and great as Kareem has meant so much to me, it’s very humbling,” James said. “Please give a standing ovation to ‘The Captain’.”
James, 38, now stands alone atop the all-time scoring leaders with 38,390 points and can look ahead toward padding that tally in the years ahead. James is averaging more than 30 points per game in his 20th season and on Tuesday reiterated his plans to bring his dominant game to the hardwood for at least a few more years.