There hasn’t been much to celebrate for Lakers fans this season, but LeBron James provided something special tonight. Off a pass from Russell Westbrook, James unleashed his trademark step-back foulaway jumper at the end of the third quarter and scored his 38,388th point, making him the NBA’s all-time scoring leader.
“He did it! He did it!” exclaimed Lakers play-by-play announcer Bill McDonald.
It was a made-for-TV moment when The King outlasted fellow Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to watch Jabbar break records. Once the basket was made, play stopped and James flashed his trademark wide smile as his sons Bryce and Bronnie, daughter Zhuri and wife Savannah rushed the court followed by a phalanx of camerapeople.
Then Kareem and NBA commissioner Adam Silver arrived to present a tearful James with the game ball.
“I just want to thank the Laker faithful,” James said, taking the mic.
“To be in the presence of a legend and great like Kareem, it’s very humbling. Please give the captain a standing ovation,” James said, referring to his nickname, Abdul-Jabbar.
Before turning back to the fans, James made a list of people who were bumped that included his wife, mother and children and the late NBA Commissioner David Stern.
“I just want to say thank you because I wouldn’t be me without you,” he said and then finished, “F*ck man. Thank you.”
It wasn’t exactly “Mamba, Out,” but it was memorable and clearly from the heart.
The 7′ 2″ Kareem played 20 years in the league — a remarkable stretch of longevity — and had a nearly unblockable shot in his arsenal, the Skyhook. Given these attributes, many consider his most points record unbreakable by another mortal. But then came LeBron James.
Like his predecessor, James is in his 20th season. While not 7′ 2″, the 6′ 8″ James – who conservatively clocks in at 250 pounds – is an undisputed athlete who spends $1 million a year to keep his already prodigious body in tip-top shape.
That decision paid off throughout James’ career. During his two-decade campaign, James went to the NBA Finals 10 times, including eight in a row. Those playoff runs equated to three additional seasons played on top of James’ 20-year regular season career. Despite all that, he remained remarkably injury-free into his 30s. And he wasn’t done yet.
Although James has started to miss more games per season over the past few years, his production while on the court is still significantly higher. In fact, James currently has his second-highest season scoring average of 30.3, second in his third season in the league, when he was 21 years old and averaged 31.4 points per game.
While the debate over who is the greatest player of all time continues, often centered on the number of championship wins, James undoubtedly set himself apart with tonight’s feat. While many players have won multiple championships — which James has done four times — there is only one all-time scoring leader. That honor now belongs to LeBron James.
All-time NBA scoring leader
- LeBron James
- Kareem Abdul Jabbar
- Karl Malone
- Kobe Bryant
- Michael Jordan
- Dirk Nowitzki
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Shaquille O’Neal
- Carmelo Anthony
- Moses Malone