Showtime Lakers and others discuss LeBron James scoring title
The Hall of Fame forward, now an analyst with Spectrum SportsNet, played during the Showtime Era with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, winning three NBA championships.
“When Kareem broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record — and he’s had it for so long, from 1985 to 2023 — I just didn’t think anybody could get that just because some great players came through that didn’t get close. I think Karl Malone was the only one that came close. So, for LeBron to come in and everybody was like Magic Johnson, 6-9, great passer. So, I get that. That’s who he is and always has been. And then I think somewhere along the way, early in his career, he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve always been a passer and an assist guy. But look at MJ and look at Kobe. Look at those guys. I need to add that dominance. I need to be on both ends.’ So, I just think over time, man, he just took that on. And he has continuously elevated his game, man. No one has had the mental capacity that he has, other than MJ, Kobe and Kareem. Kareem had that longevity of discipline and know-how to overcome stuff at the moment. So, LeBron probably picked up on a lot of people. So, in all of his characteristics, it’s a blend of what he saw — Kobe, Michael.
“But he has captivated all necessary things that I don’t even think he knew he could do. And when you throw in discipline and spending $2 million on your health. See, we didn’t have that, but Kareem had it, eating good, yoga, spiritually. He had it. Of course, Magic had it. Magic had the mental capacity.
“But I always say if Kareem had been able to come out of high school, we might not be talking about this. He didn’t even get to play as a freshman in college at UCLA. He would have killed too right out of high school, no doubt.
“Utah had a couple of regular-season games in Las Vegas and one of them was us, at Mack [Center]. I remember it distinctively. His mom and dad were there, the Alcindors. It was on the right side block and somebody was getting ready to throw it in there and could just see Magic like, ‘Hey, hey, hey. Give me that damn ball.’ Magic went over there, threw it into Kareem. He took that sky hook from about 12 feet over Mark Eaton and that was it and we all stopped the game, gave him the ball. His mom and dad come onto the court. It was my third year in the league. Now, the cool thing was that I still remember, when we get back to L.A., Wilt comes to the arena to give Kareem the ball. He had these orange bell bottoms on and a tank top. That was so cool to see those two giants together.”