The Hall-Of-Fame center and former Laker wrote an email to the Los Angeles Times after making comments critiquing James after a ceremony held at Crypto.com Arena on Sunday (April 3rd) to present Carmelo Anthony with the newly created Social Justice Champion Award that bears his name and honors his legacy of activism. Abdul-Jabbar spoke to reporters for 10 minutes afterward, who pointedly asked him about his criticism of James in the past.
“Some of the things he’s done and said are really beneath him, as far as I can see,” he began. “Some of the great things that he’s done, he’s standing on both sides of the fence almost, you know? It makes it hard for me to accept that when he’s committed himself to a different take on everything. It’s hard to figure out where he’s standing. You’ve got to check him out every time.”
James previously declined to comment on those critiques from the legendary center. Abdul-Jabbar went to social media later that evening, addressing some observers’ ire by writing on Twitter, “I regret my off-handed response which has been blown out of proportion. For years I’ve expressed my deep admiration and respect for LeBron as a community leader and athlete. That hasn’t changed and never will.”
That tweet accompanied a link to the Times’ publishing of his email which put his previous comments into a greater context.
“LeBron is still the daunting hero I described two years ago. He’s still a major force in improving lives in the Black Community.”, Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “So, when I think he may be veering from the path that made him win that award, I’ll mention it. I’m a journalist. That’s what I do. But I believe LeBron is strong enough and gracious enough to understand that I have only love for him in my heart.”
“In our community, we need those tough conversations, we need those uncomfortable conversations,” Anthony said after hearing the initial comments. “So if Kareem wants to sit down and talk if Bron wants to sit down and talk, I think that’s a conversation that needs to be had. I don’t think we need Kareem lashing out at Bron, and you haven’t seen Bron say anything about Kareem. … I think that would be a powerful conversation.”