LeBron James has done it. With a fallaway 15-footer in the final seconds of the third quarter against the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder, James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA's all-time leading scorer on Tuesday night.
James, who needed 36 points to pass Abdul-Jabbar coming into Tuesday's game, finished with 38, and now has 38,390 career points. Here's the record-breaking bucket:
With that, Kareem's near 39-year run as the NBA's all-time leading scorer ends. It is by far the longest anyone has held this particular record, more than double the 18 years that Wilt Chamberlain sat atop the all-time scoring list from 1966 through 1984, when Abdul-Jabbar took the mantle.
There has been much talk over the years, and certainly in the lead-up to this moment, about. We love to call him a pass-first guy. This isn't accurate. James is, and always has been, a right-play guy. When that play is to score, whether on a given possession or in a given matchup as a whole, he can be, and often has been, a ruthless, single-minded scorer.
But no, he has never forced his scoring, which makes this record all the more incredible. It's a record of sensational talent, tireless work and fortuitous longevity. Those three elements had to come together for this to ever be a possibility, and they have in James, who has, from his days as a high school phenom, consistently exceeded even the loftiest of expectations.
If you think about it, what really puts LeBron's seemingly inevitable scoring prowess into perspective is that he needed 36 points to get this record on Tuesday, and everyone just assumed he would do it. To score 36 points in an NBA game is no short order. But to do it on command? Almost impervious to circumstance or defense? Incredible.
Below is a look at 25 notable numbers as one of the most hallowed record in sports falls.
- Number of scoring titles James has won (30 ppg in 2007-08)
- Number of 3-pointers Kareem made during his NBA career
- James has recorded two game-winning buzzer-beaters during his regular-season career (he has five more in the playoffs)
- LeBron is the only player in history to hold the highest per-game scoring average (minimum 50 games) for three different franchises (Cavaliers, Heat, Lakers)
- Number of players who have fallen off the top-10 career scoring list since LeBron entered the league in 2003: Elvin Hayes (11), Hakeem Olajuwon (12), Oscar Robertson (13), Dominique Wilkins (15) and John Havlicek (18)
- The five players who replaced them as top-10 all-time scorers are LeBron (1), Kobe Bryant (4), Dirk Nowitzki (6), Shaquille O'Neal (8) and Carmelo Anthony (9)
- Number of player who played against both LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Rod Strickland, Reggie Miller, Olden Polynice, Mark Jackson, Kevin Willis, Horace Grant and Avery Johnson)
- LeBron has scored at least 10 points in 1,140 straight games, by far the longest streak in history (Michael Jordan is second at 866)
- LeBron has amassed 19 percent of his career point total with the Lakers
- LeBron has finished as a top-20 scorer in an NBA-record 20 straight seasons (Kareem had 17 straight)
- James has scored at least 20 points in an NBA record 1,173 games
- LeBron amassed 21 percent of his career point total with the Miami Heat
- LeBron's career PPG vs. the Detroit Pistons, his lowest against any opponent
- Amount of points LeBron scored in his first NBA game (2003 at Sacramento)
- James has averaged at least 25 PPG in an NBA record 19 straight seasons (assuming he does so again this year). Next closest are Kevin Durant, Karl Malone and Jerry West at 11.
- LeBron is the youngest (20) and oldest (38) player to average 25 PPG for a season
- LeBron's career PPG vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers, his highest against any opponent
- LeBron has 531 career 30-point games, second most in history to Michael Jordan's 562.
- LeBron's highest single-season scoring average, which he achieved with the Cavaliers in 2005-06
- LeBron's single-game scoring high for 2015-16, the only regular season of his career that he failed to register a 40-point game
- The number of years Kareem Abdul-Jabbar held the all-time scoring record (April 5,1984 to February 7th, 2023)
- LeBron is the only player in history to have at least one 40-point game against all 30 franchises.
- James has 74 career 40-point games (Wilt Chamberlain holds the record at 271)
- James has 14 career 50-point games, the same amount as Damian Lillard and Rick Barry
- LeBron is the only player with multiple 50-point games after turning 35
- James is career 50-percent shooter in the regular season
- LeBron's highest single-game scoring output as a Laker
- LeBron's highest single-game scoring output as a Cavalier
- The career true-shooting percentage of both LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Percentage of LeBron's career point total scored with Cleveland Cavaliers
- LeBron's highest single-game scoring output (2014 vs. Bobcats), which also ranks as the highest-scoring game in Miami Heat history
- LeBron is the youngest player in history to reach every 1,000-point milestone (1K, 2K, 3K .... 38K)
- Most total points LeBron has scored in a single season (2005-06)
LeBron James scoring record commemorative gear now available
LeBron James just broke the NBA's scoring record with a dramatic fadeaway bucket. Celebrate this historic occasion with commemorative shirts and hoodies, which are hot off the presses. Shop LeBron all-time scoring record gear here.
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