LeBron James breaks NBA scoring record, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James may insist he’s not a scorer, but the Los Angeles Lakers star punched a major hole in his own argument with a historic night in the middle of the 20th season of his decorated NBA career.

With a 14-foot jump shot late in the third quarter, James Kareem Abdul-Jabbars surpassed 38,387 career points and moved up to the league’s all-time top scorer Tuesday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

After the record-breaking shot, which came 10.9 seconds from the end of the quarterfinals, James raised both hands in the air as he gazed up at the sky. Photographers quickly circled the court as “MVP, MVP” chants rained down from the crowd in the Crypto.com Arena and highlights of James’ career were displayed on the video board.

The game was suspended for about 10 minutes while James hugged his family, including his wife, mother and three children, and attended a brief ceremony with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Abdul-Jabbar.

“A record that has stood for nearly 40 years,” said Silver. “A lot of people thought it would never break. LeBron, you are the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Congratulations.”

Abdul-Jabbar held up the cue ball and then handed it to James, the ceremonial passing of the torch. They posed for photos with Silver, then each other. James wiped tears from his eyes and then addressed the crowd.

“I just want to say thank you to the Laker faithful. You are one of a kind,” said James. “To be in the presence of such a great legend as Kareem is very humbling. Please give the Captain a standing ovation, please.”

James then thanked his family and those who supported him, including Silver and the late NBA Commissioner David Stern.

“Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of something I’ve always dreamed of,” James said.

James went into the game with 38,352 points and needed 36 to pass Abdul-Jabbar. He finished the night with 38 points on 13 shots of 20 (4 of 6 of 3), along with 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in a 133-130 Lakers loss.

The Lakers accredited more than 200 media members for the occasion, a crowd typically seen for a late-round playoff game. James’ family and friends from Akron, Ohio were in attendance, including some high school teammates.

James didn’t let them down: He scored 20 points in the first half with a full display of the offensive talent that still shines blindingly after two decades in the NBA, and he broke the record in a 16-point third quarter that ended by was clipped by the stepback jumper.

“He gave people what they wanted in true LeBron fashion,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham.

Abdul-Jabbar’s record stood on April 5, 1984. James, 38, was born about nine months later.

“LeBron’s career is that of someone who planned to dominate this game,” Abdul-Jabbar said in a post-game interview with TNT. “And it’s been almost 20 years now. You have to give him credit for how he played and how he persevered and dominated. He has this indefinable essence that they call leadership.”

“I never thought Kareem’s goal record would be broken by anyone,” said Lakers great Magic Johnson. “It means even more to me that you wear that purple and gold and broke it as a Laker.”

For his part, Abdul-Jabbar told TNT: “I thought it had every chance of breaking. There just had to be someone that the offensive was constantly focused on.”

Silver also issued a statement congratulating James on breaking “one of the most sacred records in all sports,” while noting that “his basketball history is yet to be made.”

Last month, as the record neared, James told ESPN: “When I say I’m not a goalscorer, I say that in the sense that it’s never been the part of my game that defines me. The goal record was never, ever even thought of in my head because I’ve always been a pass-first guy.

The four-time champion and four-time MVP has backed his claim by also being No. 4 in assists all-time, No. 9 in steals, No. 32 in rebounds and No. 91 in blocks — all of it a testament to James’s dominance and longevity, having logged the third-most minutes in league history.

“I grew up a historian of all sports,” James said last week. “I didn’t plant the number in my head – the actual, real number. I know it’s 38 (a thousand and one) something. But I know it was Kareem. My whole life.”

It was a basketball life that played out in the national spotlight from a young age, playing on television in high school, skipping college to become the No. 1 seed for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003, and his first major free agency decision announced a TV special during which he led his teams to 10 NBA Finals appearances.

This Lakers season was an ebb and flow, starting 2-10 and marred by a series of setbacks that saw Ham shuffle through 27 different starting lineups – the most in the league – but James’ continued excellence led to a parade of praise from his coach and contemporaries in the league.

“I just think it was a blessing and an honor to be a part of it,” said Ham. “I’m of a certain age, so I know what kareem has meant to the league. … He was one of the pillars that helped build this league. And then to see LeBron get into the league as a youngster straight out of high school and just what he’s done beyond basketball — he’s become a global icon. All the work he does on and off the ground. His business, he speaks out on social issues, his leadership. He’s an example of not just young basketball players, but young people at home and abroad of how to be a pro, how to have passion, how to be persistent, be productive and never be satisfied.”

Said San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who has the most coaching wins in league history and fought James three times in the Finals, “LeBron, he’s a confident man. He knows he’s a damn good player. He knows what he has achieved. But He still has His humility. He didn’t lose her.”

Abdul-Jabbar notched just one career 3-pointer, averaging 24.6 points over his 20 seasons, setting a record in 1,560 games played. James has evolved along with the league and ranks 9th on the all-time 3-list. He has averaged 27.2 points over his 20 seasons and caught Abdul-Jabbar in his 1410th game.

The youngest player to ever score every thousand-point milestone from 1,000 to 38,000 in league history, James, who is averaging 30.0 points this season, is also the oldest player to ever average 30 points per game has achieved.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/35611846/lakers-lebron-james-passes-kareem-abdul-jabbar-become-nba-all-scoring-leader LeBron James breaks NBA scoring record, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Emma Bowman

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