LeBron James cleared the penultimate hurdle in his trek to the top of the all-time NBA regular season scoring leaderboard on Saturday, as he passed Karl Malone to move into second all-time in points during the second quarter against the Wizards.
Now only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) ranks ahead of him for most regular-season points in NBA history:
LeBron is now second all-time in NBA scoring— SB Nation (@SBNation) March 20, 2022
The journey to surpass Kareem begins. pic.twitter.com/JIXqc29yP9
LeBron James is now the No. 2 scorer in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/Gu0V2a8uRa— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) March 20, 2022
Standing ovation from the crowd in Washington after moving into second all-time. pic.twitter.com/FqpWe8lXVu— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) March 20, 2022
James is already the leader in cumulative playoff and regular-season scoring combined, but Malone’s total of 36,928 points has stood as the second-highest regular-season mark since his retirement after the 2003-04 season, coincidentally with the Lakers, following a 19-year career.
Similarly, James passed Malone in his 19th season and has done it in style. His 29.7 points per game average heading into this game is his highest since the 2009-10 season, his final year in Cleveland during his first stint with the franchise. Only twice in his career has James eclipsed the 30-point per game threshold, a number he may have to clear as he continues to battle Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo for the scoring crown this year.
Among his recent exploits are a pair of 50-point games against the Warriors and Wizards that boosted him both into the scoring race this season and quickly moved him up the all-time leaderboard. Those recent scoring outbursts also took out the possibility of James passing Malone in Utah with the Lakers set to play the Jazz on the road on Thursday, March 31.
Instead, they simply accelerated his pursuit of Abdul-Jabbar, a chase that will carry over into the 2022-23 season. Abdul-Jabbar sat roughly 1500 points ahead of Malone, meaning it will likely come a decent way into next season’s campaign before James inevitably catches Abdul-Jabbar.
Still, moving into second all-time in scoring is another remarkable accomplishment in a laundry list of them for James. Even if it isn’t the ultimate goal, it’s an accomplishment that should be celebrated. Even if these moments have mostly come during a season Lakers fans will want to forget, James’ cumulative and continuing greatness should always be remembered and appreciated.