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Scoring King: James rules the NBA

Long live the King!

LeBron James is the new scoring leader in the NBA. After nearly 40 years Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s reign has come to end with another Los Angeles Laker taking over. James scored 38 points in a home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder to take the crown.

Courtesy Getty Images

The history making basket came in the 2nd half with just over 10 seconds left in the third period. James took the record on a contested fade away jumper. Abdul-Jabbar was sitting court-side and took part in the festivities, ceremonially handing over a basketball with the record inscribed on it to James. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made the announcement to the crowd and media and a visibly moved James. LeBron’s’ mother, wife and 3 children joined him on the court as well.

LeBron James came into the league in 2003 as the number one pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers at the age of 18. Now 20 years and 30,390 points later he holds the record. One of the most heralded and coveted talents to ever come to the NBA, James has lived up to the hype that had him on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school junior being proclaimed,“The Chosen”.

Courtesy Sports Illustrated

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

And how long could this record last? No active NBA player is within 10,000 points of LeBron James, who is under contract for two more years with the Lakers and is on pace to become the league’s first 40,000-point scorer sometime during the 2023-2024 season.

James might have had the scoring record long ago if he wanted. But he has always been a pass first type of guard. King James is behind only John Stockton, Jason Kidd, and Chris Paul on the all-time assists list. None of them were, or are, close to the scorer that James is. Of that group, Paul comes closest, ranking 38th in NBA history. And Paul, the only one still playing, is 17,000 points behind James on the all-time scoring chart.

And think about this when debating how great LeBron James is: James is the only member of the NBA’s “triple-quintuple club”. That is at least 10,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 10,000 assists. There are 44 players to reach five digits in just two of those categories.

One of LeBron’s goals has been to play in the NBA with his son LeBron James Jr., better known as “Bronny”, who is scheduled to attend college in the Fall. Most executives in the league think that is certainly attainable given the condition the elder James is in and no signs of him slowing down. At 38 and in his 20th season he is still averaging more than 30 points a game as well as seven assists. The consensus is that James could play another 4-5 years if he so desires.

“He’s a hooper for life,” said Phil Handy speaking with Fox Sports, who has coached James for eight seasons as an assistant with the Cavaliers (2014-18) and the Lakers(2019-present). “People don’t really talk about that enough. He loves the game of basketball, so it’s not work to him. He just loves the whole process. Taking care of his body — he loves the process of working on his game. He loves the process of competing and figuring out ways of beating his opponents.”

The cost to see history made did not come cheap. Just a get in the building ticket was $284,(£234) up %50 from the Lakers season average. And if you wanted to see history made sitting court-side you would have shelled out around $48,403(£40,086) per ticket.

So how long will this King’s reign last?

The simple answer is: until another generational talent comes along with all the tools and then some to surpass what has already been an historic career that is still in progress.

Long live The King.


  • Todd Harris

    Todd Harris is an American "Ex-Pat" living in London and still trying to understand Cricket. With more than 3 decades of broadcast journalism experience, he is keen to cover and listen to just about any story out there. He's not just a "stick&ball" reporter. Mix in boards on land, water and snow and many other niche sports and he's your guy!