For 39 years, Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stood atop the NBA’s all-time points leaderboard. On Tuesday, another Laker in LeBron James took the title of top scorer in league history from him.
It has long been inevitable that LeBron would break the record, but that does nothing to dampen the accomplishment. With Kareem in attendance — on a night the Lakers would eventually fall to the Thunder, 133-130 — LeBron James broke the record with a 3-pointer in the third quarter.
After 39 years, the NBA has a new #ScoringKing— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 8, 2023
Salute, @kingjames. pic.twitter.com/NSJqD1kobN
As called by @LAIreland on Lakers radio: pic.twitter.com/1ZthxaphIE— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) February 8, 2023
He's a father, a son, and now the #ScoringKing— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 8, 2023
Congrats, @KingJames. From the #JamesGang. pic.twitter.com/qLBY9x8aKv
Despite the loss, the schedule broke favorably for the Lakers and LeBron to allow him to break the record at home in front of the L.A. faithful. The result was a host of family, friends and media at the game to celebrate the moment.
Even though this mark felt inevitable before the season even started, LeBron has sprinted to the finish line in recent weeks and months. After a slow start to the season that included an injury, LeBron caught fire. From Nov. 26 through the end of January, a span of 30 games, LeBron averaged 32.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists and shot 52.1% from the field. In January alone, he took home a pair of Player of the Week awards and was nominated for Player of the Month.
In short, LeBron did this in style. And the record goes from one Laker to another.
In the days and weeks leading up to LeBron breaking the record, multiple profiles were written about him and his journey to 38,387 points. Zach Lowe of ESPN wrote about LeBron never being labeled as a “pure scorer” despite ascending the scoring leaderboards. For The Ringer, Mirin Fader wrote a fantastic piece comparing what made both LeBron James and Kareem great. Marc Spears wrote for Andscape a piece on how LeBron lived up to his lofty nickname as “The Chosen One.”
It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of this moment for LeBron, for the Lakers and for the NBA. It was a record many thought would never be broken that now belongs to LeBron James. The crown jewel accomplishment of a crown jewel of a career for the man known as The King.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.