By Rory Carroll
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be in the stands for two Lakers home games in which LeBron James is likely to surpass him and become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, a source close to the Lakers great told Reuters on Thursday.
Abdul-Jabbar and James have had a frosty relationship amid a range of public disagreements leaving some to wonder whether the Hall of Famer would want to witness the fall of the record he has held for nearly four decades.
Abdul-Jabbar criticized James for saying that getting the COVID-19 vaccine was a personal choice and has described James’s on-court celebrations as “stupid and childish”.
Magic Johnson in October said losing the scoring title would be a “hard pill to swallow” for his former team mate, a six-times champion and 19-times All-Star who retired in 1989.
James raised eyebrows in September when after being asked his thoughts on potentially passing Abdul-Jabbar and his relationship with him he offered a curt reply.
“No thoughts and no relationship,” James told reporters.
Prior to tip-off of the Lakers game against the Pacers in Indiana on Thursday, James needed 89 points to pass Abdul-Jabbar’s career total of 38,387.
The Lakers next head to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans on Saturday before returning to Los Angeles to face the Thunder on Tuesday and the Bucks on Thursday.
James, 38, has shown no signs of slowing down in his 20th season. Since turning 38 on Dec. 30, the four-times champion has averaged nearly 35 points per game.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, editing by Ed Osmond)