There hasn’t been a lot to celebrate for Lakers fans this season, but tonight LeBron James delivered something special. Off a pass from Russell Westbrook, James unleashed his trademark step-back fallaway jumper at the end of third quarter and scored his 38,388th point, making him the NBA’s all-time scoring leader.
“He’s done it! He’s done it!” shouted Lakers play-by-play announcer Bill Macdonald.
It was a made-for-TV moment as The King moved past fellow Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Jabbar in attendance to see the record broken. Once the basket was made, play stopped and James flashed his trademark broad smile as his sons Bryce and Bronny, daughter Zhuri and wife Savannah rushed the court followed by a phalanx of camerapeople .
Then came Kareem and NBA commissioner Adam Silver to present a teary James with the game ball.
“I just want to say thank you to the Laker faithful,” James said as he took the mic.
“To be in the presence of such a legend and great as Kareem, it’s very humbling. Please give a standing ovation to the Captain,” James said referring at Abdul-Jabbar by his nickname.
James the rattled off a list of people that included his wife, mom and kids and the late NBA commissioner David Stern before turning back to the fans.
“I just want to say thank you because I wouldn’t be me without y’all,” he said and then ended with, “F*ck man. Thank you guys.”
It wasn’t exactly “Mamba, out,” but it was memorable and obviously from the heart.
The 7′ 2″ Kareem played 20 years in the league — a remarkable stretch of longevity — and had a nearly unblockable go-to shot in his arsenal, the skyhook. Given those attributes, many considered his most points record unbreakable by another mortal. But then came LeBron James.
Like his predecessor, James is also in his 20th season. While not 7′ 2″, the 6′ 8″James — who conservatively clocks in at 250 pounds — is an unrivaled athlete who reportedly spends $1 million a year to keep his already remarkable physique in top shape.
That decision has paid off throughout James’ career. Over the course of his two-decade campaign, James has gone to the NBA Finals 10 times, including eight times in a row. Those playoff runs are the equivalent of three additional seasons played on top of James’ 20-year regular season career. Despite all that, he remained remarkably injury free well into his 30s. And he’s not done yet.
While James has begun to miss more games each season in the past few years, his production when he is on the court is still remarkably high. In fact, James currently has his second-highest season scoring average at 30.3, second only to his third season in the league, when he was 21 years old and averaged 31.4 points per game.
While debates continue to rage about who the greatest player all time is, often centered around the number of championships won, James has doubtlessly set himself apart with tonight’s achievement. 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 Leaders
- LeBron James
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Karl Malone
- Kobe Bryant
- Michael Jordan
- Dirk Nowitzki
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Shaquille O’Neal
- Carmelo Anthony
- Moses Malone
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