NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar bizarrely rushed to Don Lemon’s defense after the “CNN This Morning” anchor infuriated his co-hosts and viewers by making an on-air sexist remark about Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley.
Abdul-Jabbar chimed in even as Lemon faced universal criticism over his remarks — which, as The Post reported, led his enraged co-anchor Poppy Harlow to leave the set after the segment.
Lemon initially apologized on Twitter on Thursday and admitted his comments were “inartful and irrelevant.”
Abdul-Jabbar, who was the NBA’s all-time leading scorer until being surpassed last week by LeBron James, replied: “Don we know your heart was in the right place.”
“I think you were referencing women being in their prime during their ‘reproductive years,” the tweet continued.
He ended the tweet by saying: “Women are always in their ‘prime’ because in my opinion, they get stronger, more courageous and more beautiful as they get older.”
Abdul-Jabbar’s tweet drew instant disapproval from other Twitter users who questioned why he would defend Lemon.
Media personality Megyn Kelly was among his chief critics.
“Look at this guy – constantly lectures us on how morally superior he is — but 100% ok with Don Lemon’s misogyny. There is NO context in which this comment is okay. Stop defending it. Pathetic,” said Kelly.
“This still doesn’t make sense, because whether Nikki Haley can still get pregnant is completely irrelevant to her presidential run. Please don’t cover for Don Lemon’s sexism and ageism,” said writer Kristi Coulter.
“LOL you’re embarrassing yourself, Kareem. This is *NOT* what he was talking about,” another user wrote in a reply that received more than 500 likes.
“No, No his heart was NOT in the right place. He called a 40 year old woman too old and unsuitable for professional endeavors but an 80 year old MAN well that’s totally ok, why? Because he’s a MAN,” one user said. “BUT I am so glad to see other MEN run to his side and lead the charge to protect and forgive another MAN for his completely indefensible insult against WOMEN.”
Abdul-Jabbar has yet to respond to the criticism of his remark. The Post has reached out for comment.
The uproar began Thursday after Lemon, 56, weighed in on a call from Haley, 51, for politicians over the age of 75 to take mental competency exams to ensure they are fit to hold office.
“This whole talk about age makes me uncomfortable,” Lemon said. “I think it’s the wrong road to go down. She says people, you know, politicians are suddenly not in their prime. Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime.”
“A woman is considered to be in their prime in [their] 20s and 30s and maybe 40s,” Lemon added.
Harlow immediately pushed back on the comment as Lemon scrambled to explain himself.
“That’s not according to me,” Lemon said. “It’s like, prime. If you look it up. If you Google when is a woman in her prime, it’ll say 20s, 30s, and 40s.”
“I’m just saying Nikki Haley should be careful about saying that politicians are not in their prime and they need to be in their prime when they serve. Because she wouldn’t be in her prime according to, you know, Google,” Lemon added.
Lemon was notably absent from the set of “CNN This Morning” on Friday. Co-host Kaitlin Collins said he had the “day off.”
As The Post reported, Lemon gave a rambling apology to CNN staffers over the sexist remark, which triggered a wave of complaints that reached the office of network president Chris Licht.
“The people I am closest to in this organization are women,” Lemon said. “The people I seek counsel to first in this organization are women. The person I am closest to is my mother, a woman.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to hurt anyone. I did not mean to offend anyone,” Lemon added.
Licht also blasted Lemon during an internal town hall addressing his comments.
“Don and I have spoken at length. He knows I’m disappointed,” Licht said. “His remarks were upsetting, unacceptable and unfair to his co-hosts and ultimately a huge distraction to the great work of this organization.”
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