LeBron James broke the N.B.A. career scoring record, overtaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with his 38,388th point

 

February 2, 2023

LeBron James, who was anointed "The Chosen One" on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 17-year-old high school junior, fulfilled that prophecy by breaking the NBA scoring record with his 38,388th point during season 20 of his illustrious career.

The Los Angeles Lakers' forward scored the record-breaking basket in front of a home crowd Tuesday night local time against the Oklahoma City Thunder, overtaking a milestone that stood for nearly 39 years and was held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks center.

James broke the record with a fadeaway with 10.9 seconds left in the third quarter. The crowd erupted, and James shared a hug with his mother. The game paused in celebration.

A presentation was played on the video screens above, showing moments of his remarkable career, and Abdul-Jabbar handed James a basketball on the court and shook his hand. James wiped his eyes, and thanked his family, the fans and the NBA.


"I would never ever in a million years dreamt this even better than what it is tonight," James said.

James began the game needing 36 points to capture the record considered unbreakable by some pundits. The record includes scoring only during regular-season games. Playoff games are in their own category.

Abdul-Jabbar surpassed NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain as the top scorer on April 5, 1984 - more than eight months before James was born.

Abdul-Jabbar scored 38,387 points in a two-decade NBA career before he retired in 1989.


James, 38, widely considered a pass-first player, moved up to No. 4 in all-time NBA assists late last month when he eclipsed Steve Nash with his 10,336th assist.

James, a native of Akron, Ohio, who was selected out of high school as the NBA's No. 1 pick in 2003 by the Cleveland Cavaliers, has trekked toward the scoring record during his two-decade career by averaging about 27 points per game.

James, a four-time league MVP who has won four NBA titles with three teams (in 2012 and 2013 with the Miami Heat, in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers and in 2020 with the Lakers), said Thursday after a narrow victory against the Indiana Pacers that the scoring record is one he covets.


I think it's one of the greatest records in sports, in general," he said. "It's like the home run record in baseball. It's one of those records that you don't ever see or think will be broken. You see guys like Hank Aaron, who had it for so long. You see guys like Sammy [Sosa] and Mark McGwire, and you start climbing it, and it's like, 'Oh, this could really happen.' It's a fun thing as a sports person. It was fun watching those guys chasing it.

Even as a grizzled veteran, James hasn't slowed down this season. While the Lakers are struggling to secure a playoff spot, James has averaged about 30 points per game, competing among the league's elite scorers, 20-something superstars such as Joel Embiid, Luka Dončić and Giannis Antetokounmpo.


James has had multiple 40-point games this season. His 46 points against the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 24 set another NBA record, establishing him as the only player in history to score 40 points or more against every NBA franchise.

 

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