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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, speaking before the Lakers host Denver on Sunday afternoon at the unveiling of a social justice trophy bearing his name, again slammed LeBron James for actions he called ” underlying” to James and said the Lakers star should be “embarrassed” by some of the things he’s done.
Abdul-Jabbar wrote critically earlier this season about James’ handling of COVID-19 in public comments supporting Andrew Wiggins’ vaccine hesitancy and James’ use of a COVID-similar meme -19 to colds and flu.
He said the criticism arose from high expectations for James’ activism and the way he addressed issues of inequality “quite forcefully and eloquently”. Although he met James, the two men never spoke of activism or criticism of Abdul-Jabbar.
“I wouldn’t mind doing it if he took the time. I definitely had time,” Abdul-Jabbar said of her conversation with him. “I admire the things he has done that have caught our attention. Send a whole school to university? wow. It’s incredible. His thoughtfulness and willingness to back it up with his wallet, you have to give him credit for that.
“So I’m not throwing stones. I just wish he didn’t – you know, some of the things he did, he should be embarrassed. That’s just where I’m coming from.
James was unable to play Sunday against the Nuggets due to ankle pain. It is listed daily.
James declined to directly address Abdul-Jabbar’s past criticism of his use of the Spider-Man meme in regards to COVID-19.
“No, I don’t have an answer to Kareem at all,” James said on Dec. 28. Help me understand everything. We are all trying to understand this pandemic. We’re all trying to figure out COVID and new strains and the flu, I think people have forgotten about the flu. People literally forgot about the flu at that time. Like, it’s still going around. It’s flu season. So people forgot about the flu. People have forgotten about colds. It happens. Especially with many of our children who are in school. My daughter is in first grade, so a lot of these kids are catching colds and getting the flu.
“But no. I have no answer to Kareem. At all.”
The inaugural Social Justice Champion Award was presented to Carmelo Anthony in 2021. On Sunday, the league unveiled the trophy, which Abdul-Jabbar inspired and helped design.
Abdul-Jabbar also took issue with James’ celebration in Indiana, which earned him a $15,000 NBA fine for being “lewd.”
“I think he has so much going for him in terms of respect and accomplishment and he shouldn’t stoop at those times,” he said.
James is currently chasing Abdul-Jabbar for No. 1 on the league’s all-time scoring list, trailing him by 1,325 points.
“I’m all for him doing it. There is no envy there,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “I come – with the issues that I was talking about, the things that really affect the black community, he should be careful. That’s all I’m asking.”
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
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