LeBron James breaks NBA’s all-time scoring record, passes Kareem
LeBron James is the NBA’s king of scoring.
The Lakers star became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 career points, on Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The record-setting points, his 35th and 36th of the game, came on a fadeaway mid-range jumper with 10.9 second left in the third quarter.
As sons Bronny and Bryce and daughter Zhuri looked on, James set one of sport’s most hallowed records, one Abdul-Jabbar had held for nearly 40 years.
The game stopped. James brought his family on the court – he hugged his mom, Gloria, and kissed his wife Savannah. The Lakers played a tribute video, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver congratulated James. Abdul-Jabbar presented James with the game ball and the two embraced.
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Abdul-Jabbar sat courtside, clapping with each point James scored. Besides James’ family, good friends Dwyane Wade, Maverick Carter and Rich Paul were there.
Among the luminaries who witnessed it in person: Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, Magic Johnson, Jay-Z, Nike founder Phil Knight, LL Cool J, Bad Bunny, Floyd Mayweather and John McEnroe.
James entered the arena in an all-black suit with a gold and black pin that read “Stay present.” When he took the court for warm-ups, James sported a T-shirt that read “Built by Black History” along with his once-customary headband.
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He welcomed the magnitude of the moment.
James missed his first two shots and made a 3-pointer on his third attempt at 7:05 of the first quarter. He took a Josh Giddey elbow to the eye on a driving layup but remained in the game. A few minutes later, he checked out of the game with eight first-quarter points.
James had 12 points in the second quarter punctuated by back-to-back and-1s for a quick six points. He added a 3-pointer and went into halftime with 20 points on 6-for-10 shooting, including 2-for-3 on 3s, and 6-for-8 on free throws.
He went after the record with fervor in a 16-point third quarter.
At 38, LeBron is not slowing down
Ever since LeBron James passed on the scoring list Michael Jordan in 2019, Kobe Bryant in 2020 and Karl Malone in 2022, it’s just been a matter of when he broke the record as long as he stayed relatively healthy. Starting this season with 37,062 points, James was projected to pass Abdul-Jabbar in early 2023. By the time January arrived, James was on pace to do it in early February.
High-scoring individual performances are up this season, and James, even at 38 years old, has taken advantage. He has scored at least 30 points in 22 of 43 games, with five 40-plus performances, including a season-high 48 against Houston on Jan. 6.
He is the league’s seventh-leading scorer at 30 points per game this season, and no other player his age has averaged more than 24 points in a season.
LeBron is a relentless scorer
James’ ascent to the top of the scoring mountain is distinguished by an unprecedented combination of all-time great talent, consistency, longevity and availability.
For his career, he averages 27 points per game, and outside of his rookie season when he averaged 20.9 points, he has never scored less than 25 points per game in a season. Throughout his career, he has adapted his game to become a proficient scorer from 3-point range, mid-range and at the rim.
James has been a relentless scorer – the youngest to 10,000 points in 2008, the youngest to 20,000 points in 2013 and just the seventh player in NBA history to reach 30,000 points in 2018. He has scored at least 10 points in a league-record 1,140 games, a record that began on Jan. 6, 2007 and is 274 more than Jordan who is No. 2 on that list.
Follow NBA reporter Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt