Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who admits he was in awe of...

By JEFF HASEN, UPI Sports Writer

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who admits he was in awe of Wilt Chamberlain when the two first met two decades ago, needs 21 points Thursday night to eclipse Chamberlain's all-time scoring NBA record -- a mark many thought would never be broken.

Abdul-Jabbar, who has scored 20 or more points in 17 straight games, needs 21 in Thursday night's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz at the Thomas and Mack Center to break Chamberlain's mark of 31,419 regular-season points.


'It's a great personal achievement, something I'll treasure all my life,' said Abdul-Jabbar, a six-time NBA Most Valuable Player. 'To be No. 1 in an American sport is something to be proud of. I'm very thankful, and I hope everyone feels that I deserve it.'

Chamberlain, who has stayed in the background while Abdul-Jabbar has made a furious assault at his record, is expected to be at the Forum Friday night when the Lakers hold a ceremony honoring Abdul-Jabbar. It is not known if he would attend Thursday night's game.


'If anyone deserves to break the record, it's definitely, definitely him,' Chamberlain, who played 14 seasons, told the Los Angeles Times six weeks ago. 'As far as I'm concerned, since the time of Neil Johnston and George Mikan, nobody, no offensive center, has ever played from the post predominantly, mainly and only, other than myself and Kareem.

'If someone's going to take your record, I think you gotta feel good about who it is. He definitely deserves it; it's no fluke of a record. It's something that took a lot of years, a lot of time, a lot of two and three guys hanging on him, and he has done it.'

Abdul-Jabbar, two weeks short of his 37th birthday, scored 28 points Tuesday night at San Antonio to move within striking distance. If he fails to gain the record Thursday night, he's almost sure to get it Friday night when the Lakers host Kansas City.

'I'm trying to enjoy it,' Abdul-Jabbar said of the run at the mark. 'When I do (break it), at least I won't have to answer all the questions anymore. There isn't a day that's gone by without somebody telling me exactly how many points I have and how many more I need.


'I'm trying to concentrate on our season. Early in the season, everybody thought I couldn't do it. I'm approaching the point where I can put this behind me and get on with our primary objectives.'

Abdul-Jabbar, currently in his 15th season, wrote in his autobiography, 'Giant Steps' that he was in 'awe' of Chamberlain when he first met him while attending high school in New York. The two went their seperate ways for nearly 10 years before the filming of an airline commercial brought them back together a few years ago.

'Wilt has a place of special honor in the history of basketball,' Abdul-Jabbar wrote. 'He personally made the game progress, brought the big man from clod to controlling factor. If it weren't for Wilt, people wouldn't believe some things were possible -- 100 points by one man in a single game, a 50-point-per-game average...

'Wilt was not perfect, however. He wasn't the best competitor. He didn't have the most savvy as far as how to make his team win. (Bill) Russell seemed to get more crucial rebounds, and though Wilt won the scoring titles, Russell came away with eleven championship rings to Wilt's two -- admittedly, Russell was playing with a superior team around him.'


NBA Commissioner David Stern is expected to attend Thursday night's game and preside over a brief ceremony if the record is broken. Stern is scheduled to go to Los Angeles if Abdul-Jabbar doesn't eclipse the mark.

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