Magic Johnson: LeBron setting scoring record will be a ‘hard pill’ for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar


LeBron James is on the verge of passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, and Magic Johnson has some thoughts on how that could happen.

A guest on Shannon Sharp’s “Club Shay Shay” program, Johnson was asked how Abdul-Jabbar would deal with the loss of a commendable record.

“I’m not good at thinking,” Magic said after a laugh.

Kareem, Magic, and LeBron are three names that are almost impossible not to mention when discussing Lakers (and basketball) legends. It is possible that Johnson is accurate in his prediction of how Abdul-Jabbar might react to a potential shift in his legacy.

James currently needs 1244 points to pass Abdul-Jabbar, who has held the record since April 1984.

In a conversation with Sharpe, Johnson admitted that the top scorer is what Abdul-Jabbar thought he would have forever. Being eclipsed by James can make things worse.

“Let’s be honest… The fact that a dude also plays for the Lakers. This is a dude playing in Los Angeles and I think it’s going to be a hard pill to swallow,” Johnson said.

LeBron, Kareem and the future

What Abdul-Jabbar did nearly 40 years ago was thought by many to never be repeated, in part because of the length of his 20-year career.

James is now in his 20th season and while Abdul-Jabbar has averaged higher scoring numbers early on, James has 18 consecutive seasons under his belt averaging at least 25 points per game to help him catch up. For a player to set a record after Abdul-Jabbar and James, he would have to join the league at 18, beat the average of great players, and almost never miss a game for at least 20 years.

October 20, 2022;  Los Angeles, California, USA;  Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) dribbles against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first half at the Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James’ longtime consistency helps him surpass Karim Abul-Jabbar’s (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) scoring record.

Publicly, Abdul-Jabbar diplomatically announced the loss of his long service record.

“If LeBron breaks the record, and it looks like he has every reason to, I will be very happy for him. The game will always improve when such records are broken.” Abdul-Jabbar said in August.

He even remarked that he would “try to be there” when James did.

However, Johnson also addressed the relationship between the two great Lakers players. Adbul-Jabbar has made statements about James in the past, sometimes apologizing and sometimes doubling down about what might be called criticism of some of his actions and social attitudes.

Most recently, James said he has no relationship with the former Lakers big man. This is what Johnson would like to change.

“If I could play a role in this, I would love to do it. I think let him pass it first. Let it happen, let it soak in for a minute and then pair the two men together because they will find they are alike,” he said.