The 2022-23 NBA season tips off on Tuesday night, and we have storylines galore. The Golden State Warriors look to repeat as champions amid internal team drama.
A slew of healthy star level players return from injury, making the title race wide open, and LeBron James is poised to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
Perhaps the NBA’s most hallowed record is likely to fall this season as LeBron nears the all-time points record set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points). Last season, LeBron averaged 30.3 points per game. If he scores at the same rate this season he would approach the record at about midseason.
This season is also important for LeBron’s Los Angeles Lakers as they look to rebound from last year’s dismal 33-49 record, where they failed to make the playoffs. LeBron was limited to 56 games as he dealt with injuries.
Entering his 20th season LeBron has earned every accolade possible. He is an 18-time All-NBA, 18-time All-Star, six-time All-Defensive Team, four-time NBA champion, four-time Finals MVP, four-time league MVP, rookie of the year, scoring champ, assists champ. He’s done it all.
“It’s a huge thing, I believe,” James told The Los Angeles Times. “I think it’s one of the most sought-after records in sports. And me personally, I’ve never even like set a goal of doing it. It makes zero sense to me. But it’s something that’s bigger, and bigger than people think.”
Kareem has had his issues with LeBron off the floor with specific aspects of LeBron’s messaging. As arguably the most recognizable athlete in the world, Kareem holds LeBron to a very high standard, too high if you ask Bron stans. But Kareem was forged in the fire of the civil rights movement, so the phrase “More Than An Athlete” is not just some cool slogan for a T-shirt.
Aside from a few missteps, most notably his COVID-19 “confusion,” his comments about Hong Kong, and his silence regarding the Tamir Rice shooting in Cleveland, LeBron has done a lot.
“I admire the things that he’s done that have gotten all our attention. Sending a whole school to college? Wow. That’s amazing. His thoughtfulness and willingness to back it up with his wallet, you got to give him credit for that,” said Abdul-Jabbar. “So I’m not throwing stones. I just wish he wouldn’t — you know, some of the things he’s done, he should be embarrassed about. That’s just where I’m coming from.”
Their differences aside, these are two of the greatest basketball players of all time. Two of only three men (Michael Jordan) who can lay claim to GOAT status.
Drafted in 2003, since his second year in the league LeBron has been ranked in the 97th percentile or higher in EPM, and the 96th percentile in estimated wins. In other words he’s performed at an MVP level for the majority of his career. Even if he drops down to All-NBA level this season and the next two, it will be a peak that neither Jordan nor Kareem matched.
In 2024 LeBron’s son Bronny James will be eligible for the NBA draft. LeBron has made it clear that he wants to play his final year with his son. It would be the first time in NBA history a father-son duo played together in the league. If that happens it would be another testament to LeBron’s greatness.
Bronny James last night:
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) October 15, 2022
But that’s a couple years away. Right now, buckle up for this NBA season, which promises to be full of big games and big moments.