LeBron James made history on Tuesday by surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career regular-season points total of 38,387, a record that was previously considered impossible to beat, thus becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
At the court center, James emotionally handed over his former Lakers teammates.
“Thank you all,” the man exclaimed, with overwhelming excitement, addressing the crowd. James was informed that tonight was beyond his wildest dreams and he never imagined it could be any better than this moment, even in a million years.
Abdul-Jabbar retired after scoring a record 31,419 points in his later seasons, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 31,419 points in April 1984, more than eight months before James was born. Abdul-Jabbar’s record stood for over 38 years.
Abdul-Jabbar averaged 24.6 points over his career season with the Lakers and Bucks in Milwaukee, while James has averaged 27.2 points per game over his career season with the Lakers and Miami Heat, and the Cavaliers in Cleveland. At 38 years old, James broke Abdul-Jabbar’s record by playing 1,410 games, which is more than 150 games fewer than Abdul-Jabbar.
In the 1979-80 NBA season, Abdul-Jabbar didn’t introduce the 3-point line in the league. He only made one shot from that distance, and over the course of time, James has had the help of making 2,237 shots.
Since positioning himself behind Abdul-Jabbar, James has been eagerly awaiting this moment. In March 2019, he exceeded the scoring record of then-fourth-ranked Michael Jordan (32,292 points), and shortly before his tragic death in January 2020, he surpassed Kobe Bryant (33,643 points). Finally, in March 2022, he surpassed Karl Malone (36,928 points), who had held the No. 2 scoring position for a long time.
[Regardless of one’s feelings towards LeBron James, this achievement is indisputable.]
During halftime on TNT’s Tuesday broadcast, James picked up the audio, telling his sons Bryce and Bronny that he was the one shooting for the record in this slow-paced game.
He stated, examining the scoreboard to analyze the figures, “Shall I retrieve it?” Eight points per quarter, 16 points at this very moment.
James has been averaging 34.4 points in 16 games, including a 40.5-point performance on Christmas. However, James finished with 38 points in the tournament play-in games, even dropping two of them in Tuesday’s loss. The Lakers are currently in 13th place in the Western Conference with a record of 25-29 this season. James is averaging 30 points per game on 50.5% shooting, along with 7.1 assists and 8.5 rebounds per game.
There are no significant challengers to James’ all-time scoring record, with Kevin Durant, the active player who ranks 14th with 26,684 points at 34 years old, trailing him the most in points.
Michael Jordan (5,987) was placed at the second position, surpassing him with 7,631 points in the playoffs, thus establishing himself as the highest scorer of all time. He achieved a remarkable total of over 30,000 career points, 10,000 rebounds, and 10,000 assists, making him the sole player to accomplish this feat in the previous season. James boasts an impressive track record, which includes four championships, four MVPs, four Finals MVPs, two Olympic gold medals, an outstanding 18 All-NBA selections, and an equaling record of 19 All-Star selections.
However, breaking the all-time scoring record was never a goal he had dreamed of achieving.
James, speaking in late January, expressed that he had never considered the possibility of surpassing Kareem in scoring. Throughout his basketball career, this idea had never crossed his mind.
It’s really frustrating to me that his name is not mentioned among the greatest scorers in NBA history, even though he acknowledged it in an episode of “The Shop” in March. He has always considered himself more of a playmaker than a shooter. After growing up in Akron, Ohio, he entered the league at the age of 18 as the overall pick number 1 in the 2003 draft.
However, his renown as an exceptional playmaker and scorer still distinguishes him from others.
“Wow, that’s amazing! He doesn’t even consider himself a stylish scorer, and when it comes to becoming the all-time leading scorer in league history, he’s not even thinking about it. Steve Kerr, the coach of the Warriors, told FOX Sports that James breaking the scoring record is his favorite thing, and he believes it’s a great opportunity to get an assist.”
In the 2024 NBA Draft, Canyon Sierra’s guard, who will be eligible, has mentioned multiple times that he wants to play with his son, Bronny, and James is under contract through the 2024-25 season.
Even at a slightly lower rate than James has been scoring, he could exceed 40,000 points as early as the upcoming season.
During a private conversation with FOX Sports this week, James conveyed that he still maintains a surplus of motivation to prolong his professional career.
James stated, “I still believe that I possess an abundance of energy in this reservoir to assist any organization in achieving a championship.” “Furthermore, I am currently affiliated with the Lakers, and my objective is to aid them in reclaiming their status as champions for the 18th occasion. Therefore, that is the source of my inspiration.”
People within the NBA community believe he can maintain this level of excellence even beyond the age of 40.
Jared Dudley, who was a teammate of James from 2019-21 and currently serves as an assistant coach on the Mavericks, expressed, “He will continue to excel as an All-Star even at the age of 40.” “He will still maintain an average of over 20 points per game.”
The head coach of the Mavericks, Jason Kidd, agrees that James can continue for as long as he desires.
Kidd informed FOX Sports, “If he desires, he has the potential to become the Tom Brady of the NBA.” “He has the capability to sustain this for a longer duration. I do not wish to underestimate him, as he could continue for three or four additional years.”
Sporting a broad smile, he replied to FOX Sports on Saturday, expressing what his 18-year-old self would have said if he had been informed that he would eventually become the top scorer in NBA history, yet the achievement continues to astonish James himself.
“Yes, correct,” he stated. “Yes, correct.”
Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group, and the San Antonio Express-News. She is also active on Twitter, where you can follow her.
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