Crowning The King: LeBron surpasses Kareem for NBA's scoring record
The NBA has a new scoring king.
And the crown fits remarkably well after LeBron James surpassed fellow Los Angeles Lakers icon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the league's all-time points record during Tuesday's contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Here's a breakdown of what it took for LeBron to eclipse the 38,387 career points plateau:
Feb 7: Thunder 133-130 Lakers
With the record feasible in one game, James and his teammates took little time getting him on the scoreboard.
In a crowd littered with his family, former teammates, and celebrities, the King scored 20 first-half points. The production was his second-highest tally in an opening half this season.
And then, amid an attempted comeback against the rebuilding Thunder late in the third quarter, James scored on a fadeaway jumper to stand alone as the league's all-time leading scorer.
The game reached a complete standstill, and LeBron delivered an emotional speech.
After the hoopla of the celebration, there was still a game to be played. The Thunder survived a late push from the Lakers and held on for an important win in the Western Conference play-in race.
“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," James told TNT after the game.
"It was a blessing and an honor to be a part of it," added head coach Darvin Ham, according to the LA Times' Dan Woike.
Feb. 4: Pelicans 131-126 Lakers
- Points scored: 27
- Career points: 38,352
The NBA's all-time scoring title is now within James' grasp.
The 20-year veteran finished Saturday's narrow loss to the New Orleans Pelicans with 27 points, inching him closer to the illustrious milestone.
James went 10-of-22 from the floor but only 1-of-7 from distance to move within just 36 points of the record Abdul-Jabbar has held for 39 years. Clinching it in his next game is no longer out of the question - the Lakers forward has scored 36 or more in 197 of his 1,409 regular-season games, including nine times in 42 appearances this campaign alone.
Feb. 2: Lakers 112-111 Pacers
- Points scored: 26
- Career points: 38,325
With 26 points in a nail-biting win over the Indiana Pacers Thursday, James now sits just 62 away from tying Abdul-Jabbar for the illustrious record and 63 points away from claiming it himself entirely.
The four-time MVP was a solid 11-of-19 from the floor and made his only two free throws, inching closer to history as L.A. barely hung on for the one-point victory.
It could still take a couple games for the Lakers superstar to cement his place atop the all-time scoring leaderboard, however. James has never scored 63 points in a single contest - his closest attempt came in March 2014 when he torched the Charlotte Bobcats for a career-high 61.
Jan. 31: Lakers 129-123 Knicks
- Points scored: 28
- Career points: 38,299
The distance between James and Abdul-Jabbar is down to double digits.
Despite an off shooting night, James registered a 28-point triple-double against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, taking him to 38,299 points for his career and delivering the Los Angeles Lakers' postseason aspirations a timely boost .
Abdul-Jabbar's mark wasn't the only milestone on James' mind Tuesday. The 38-year-old also surpassed both Mark Jackson and Steve Nash on back-to-back dimes in the final frame to jump into fourth place on the all-time assists leaderboard.
Jan. 28: Celtics 125-121 Lakers
- Points scored: 41
- Career points: 38,271
The pride of Akron, Ohio, is now just 117 points from eclipsing fellow Lakers icon Abdul-Jabbar following a 41-point showing in a thrilling overtime road loss against the Boston Celtics.
James went 15-of-30 from the field and 6-of-12 from deep to go with nine rebounds and eight assists. The performance was James' second display of 40 or more points in his last three outings, and the fifth time he's hit that mark this season.
The defeat in Beantown was James' first game since he was named All-Star starter and captain of the Western Conference team. He now has 19 All-Star selections, tied with Abdul-Jabbar for most in NBA history.