Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar apologizes for saying LeBron James should be ’embarrassed’ about his COVID-19 comments

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has apologized for his recent criticism of LeBron James, whom Abdul-Jabbar said should be “embarrassed” about some of his comments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“All I have to say is this: I was there to give Carmelo Anthony the NBA Social Justice Champion Award. I’ve been talking to the press since high school, that’s 60 years of making statements. And I haven’t always gotten it right. And Sunday was one of those nights,” Abdul-Jabbar said Monday on SiriusXM NBA Radio, via ESPN

“It wasn’t my intention to criticize LeBron in any way. He has done so much for the Black community as well as for the game of basketball. We may not always agree, but I want to wholeheartedly apologize to LeBron and make it clear to him that I have tremendous respect for him. And if he can accept that, I’ll be very happy.” 

Abdul-Jabbar took exception with James supporting Andrew Wiggins earlier in the season after the Golden State Warriors forward was previously resistant to getting the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as for James sharing a meme on Instagram that likened the COVID-19 to the flu or a common cold. While Abdul-Jabbar disagrees with how LeBron has handled this situation, he would welcome the opportunity to sit down and talk with him about their activism.

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“I wouldn’t mind doing it if he would take the time. I definitely got the time,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “I admire the things that he’s done that have gotten all our attention. Sending a whole school to college? Wow. That’s amazing. His thoughtfulness and willingness to back it up with his wallet, you got to give him credit for that. “So I’m not throwing stones. I just wish he wouldn’t — you know, some of the things he’s done, he should be embarrassed about. That’s just where I’m coming from.”

Another issue Abdul-Jabbar had was when LeBron received a $15,000 fine from the league for a celebration that was considered obscene by the NBA in November. 

“I think he has so much going for him in terms of respect and accomplishment and he shouldn’t stoop to those moments,” Abdul-Jabbar said.

The all-time leading scorer in NBA history said the reason he’s been so critical of LeBron is because he has high expectations for him. He’s seen how impactful he’s been in speaking on social justice issues, saying he’s spoken “eloquently” about them. 

When Abdul-Jabbar initially criticized LeBron earlier in the season for his viewpoint on the pandemic, James opted not to get into a verbal sparring match with him.

“No, I don’t have a response to Kareem at all,” James said in December. “And if you saw the post and you read the tag, you’re literally, honestly asking, ‘Help me out?’ Help me kind of figure it all out. We’re all trying to figure this pandemic out.”

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