LeBron James enters this season 3,020 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to take over as the NBA’s All-Time scoring leader. At his current scoring rate, LeBron is about two fully healthy seasons away from taking over that crown.
Unlike some “get off my lawn” older players, Abdul-Jabbar has a healthy attitude about today’s game, and the possibility that his most seemingly unbreakable record could be broken. Abdul-Jabbar spoke to Marc Stein for his “how have you not subscribed yet?” substack newsletter.
“I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”
There is no official reporting on how much money Abdul-Jabbar earned over his career, but his top salaries were close to today’s veteran minimum. Some older players get a little salty because of the freedom of player movement and money today’s players enjoy. But, once again, Abdul-Jabbar has a healthy attitude.
Every generation of athlete feels they were born too early to reap the benefits that they see the current generation enjoying. Sure, this generation of NBA players is the most empowered in terms of guiding their own careers, getting paid and having the freedom to speak out. But it can always be better and years from now a journalist will be asking a similar question to old-timers LeBron and Steph and they’ll say the new generation has it better than they did. And they’ll be right.
Stein and KAJ also talk about the skyhook, the GOAT debate (which Abdul-Jabbar absolutely should be in the middle of), writing, and much more. Abdul-Jabbar has seen so much and grown into a wise sage on a lot of issues. He’s a fascinating read/listen, regardless of the topic.
Abdul-Jabbar has his own substack newsletter, which will be worth checking out.