Kareem Abdul-Jabbar opened up his wallet to take Kathy Griffin out to a dinner Tuesday night -- to thank the comic for writing his "I'm Michael Jordan" joke at the Democratic National Convention.
Turns out, the two have been friends for a while (they met at the Chris Matthews show) ... and Kathy says she offered up the assist when it came to punching up KAJ's DNC speech.
You know the joke ... Kareem walks out and says, "Hi I'm Michael Jordan ... I said that because I know Donald Trump couldn't tell the difference."
The blue people laughed. The red people ... not so much.
After the thank you dinner, Kathy raved about the NBA legend -- and gave the plate-by-plate breakdown on what he had to eat. It's pretty funny.