LeBron James has done it. He is the NBA’s new all-time scoring leader with 38,390 career points and counting. He bested the mark of 38,387 held by the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for 38 years. LeBron now stands alone atop a hallowed list of NBA legends, and is truly the greatest player the game has ever seen.
How Did LeBron James Break Kareem’s Scoring Record?
It was a fadeaway jumper with 10.9 seconds left in the third quarter of a 133-130 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder that broke the record and catapulted him to number one all-time. James finished with 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting, along with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
the shot that made history.
greatness personified 👑 pic.twitter.com/TDxkVLsMFe
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) February 8, 2023
That’s where we should begin when making the case for LeBron being the greatest. Not only is he the greatest scorer. He also impacts every other facet of the game, from playmaking to defense.
LeBron is the only player in NBA history with at least 30,000 career points, 10,000 career rebounds, 10,000 career assists, 2,000 career steals and 1,000 career blocks. Let that sink in for a moment.
The only player. Ever.
Of course, part of that is longevity. This is LeBron’s 20th season in the NBA. But to be playing elite-level NBA hoops at 38 is extremely impressive.
LeBron Is GOAT Due To Longevity
The men who sit behind LeBron on the all-time scoring list were all shells of their former selves when they crossed the 30,000-point barrier. LeBron in year 20 at age 38 surpassed 38,000-plus points. This season he’s averaging 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists per game on 50/31/76 shooting splits.
He is eighth in the NBA in EPM. That’s the 98th percentile. In his entire career, he was below the 97th percentile in EPM one time. His rookie season.
LeBron may no longer be the best player in the world and a perennial MVP candidate. But he’s still playing basketball at an elite level — better than 98 percent of players in the league. That’s incredible.
We have to make mention of the advances in sports science and sports medicine that have allowed athletes to play better, later into their careers. It’s not the only reason LeBron is still elite. He has the talent, desire and will to keep striving to be the best. Nonetheless, the science and medicine still are factors, despite what Kevin Durant and his podcast co-host Eddie Gonzalez would like you to believe.
.@KDTrey5 salutes @KingJames.
"He's 38 years old, he goes through so much off the floor as a man in general. His family, he's got so many responsibilities. He still loves the game, still getting up playing back-to-backs… Still playing 40 minutes. Man, salute to that." pic.twitter.com/zpJ0RUUcuC
— Boardroom (@boardroom) February 7, 2023
LeBron James Is An Elite Scorer
LeBron is so elite at scoring, despite him telling us for years “I’m not a scorer”, that he has more points than his two title-winning running mates, Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving, combined.
LeBron James has scored more points in his career than Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving COMBINED. https://t.co/2cFjpwvs2h
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) February 7, 2023
“I just want to say thank you to the Laker faithful. You guys are one of a kind,” James told the fans who turned out in droves for the chance to see a once-in-a-generation achievement. “To be able to be in the presence of such a legend and great as Kareem, it’s very humbling. Please give a standing ovation to The Captain, please.”
Abdul-Jabbar made it clear once again through his Substack newsletter, that he is happy with LeBron breaking his record.
“Whenever a sports record is broken—including mine—it’s a time for celebration. It means someone has pushed the boundaries of what we thought was possible to a whole new level. And when one person climbs higher than the last person, we all feel like we are capable of being more.”
LeBron’s list of NBA accolades is ridiculous: four-time champion, four-time Finals MVP, four-time MVP, a record 19X All-Star, a record 18X (soon to be 19X) All-NBA, six-time All-Defense, Rookie of the Year, a scoring title and assist title.
Since his second season in the league, he’s been a top player and that continues in year 20. Thirteen of his 18 All NBA honors have been first team. That’s the five best players in the league. That’s also a record number of first team selections. Three second teams and two third teams.
LeBron VS. MJ
You could argue you’d take Michael Jordan‘s 1990-91 season over any of LeBron’s seasons. Or maybe you prefer Abdul-Jabbar’s 1971-72 season. But there is no player whose prime years were longer or better than LeBron’s.
Jordan and Abdul-Jabbar may have won more titles, but those are team awards, not individual. What LeBron did in leading teams to 10 NBA Finals is the stuff of legend.
In the history of the NBA, there has never been a player that has entered the league with as much hype and expectations as LeBron. Dubbed “The Chosen One” as a teenager, he entered the league and rewrote the history books, and won championships.
He didn’t simply meet expectations. He exceeded them.
“I’m gonna take myself against anybody that’s ever played this game,” said LeBron to Shaquille O’Neal postgame. “I always feel like I’m the best to ever play this game.”
.@SHAQ: “Does this now make you the greatest player of all time?”@KingJames: “I’m gonna take myself against anybody that’s ever played this game. … I always feel like I’m the best to ever play this game.” pic.twitter.com/5mzrZ59GTG
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 8, 2023
Point made, LeBron: 38,390 points and counting.