Unrivaled longevity makes LeBron James the all-time leading scorer in the NBA

With 38,390 points, the American basketball player became, Tuesday evening, the best scorer in NBA history, surpassing the career points record of former Los Angeles Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. An extraordinary feat for an extraordinary player.

Simply exceptional! By scoring 38 points on Tuesday, February 7, during the loss of the Los Angeles Lakers against Oklahoma City Thunder (130-133), LeBron James became the leading scorer in NBA history. He thus exceeds the 38,387 career points scored by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, number one in the rankings since 1984 and retired from the courts since 1989, and should even put them at a good distance as his level of play indicates that retirement is not for right away.

It was a successful turnaround shot at the end of the third quarter that brought time to a standstill, the game and the breath of some 20,000 fans – including celebrities like Jay-Z, LL Cool J, John McEnroe, Magic Johnson and the wealthy who paid up to $24,000 a seat at the edge of the field – in a molten Crypto.com Arena. The match then stopped to celebrate the exploit with dignity.

“Thank you to my beautiful wife, my daughter, my two boys, my friends, my mother, everyone who has been part of my journey for the past twenty years and more,” said LeBron James, tears in his eyes, surrounded by his relatives.

And he did not fail to thank Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had come to pass on the torch for the occasion. “Being in the presence of such a legend means a lot to me. It’s a great lesson in humility, give the captain a standing ovation, please!”

“To break this points record is something incredible,” said Jacques Monclar, former player of the France team and former coach of Antibes, now NBA consultant on beIN Sport. “To really realize, it’s a bit like Bob Beamon’s long jump record [réalisé aux JO 1968, finalement battu 23 ans plus tard par Mike Powell]. We transferred that it never moved, that nobody caught up with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but 34 years later, LeBron James did it. He has already done a lot of things in his career, but there he still marks the history of the basket a little more.”

At 38, LeBron James is currently playing his twentieth NBA season. The weight of the years does not seem to have an impact on him. After 43 games played this year, he’s averaging 30.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 0.9 steals in 36.5 minutes per game. Statistics that still place him in the Top 3 of the best basketball players in the world.

“Physically, he has always been exceptional”

Such longevity at such a high level is a first. By way of comparison, Michael Jordan, for example, only played 14 full seasons (he had only played one end of the season when he first returned to the game in 1995), including two played with the Washington Wizards, at 39. years, in the manager-player costume, with reduced statistics compared to the rest of his career under the jersey of the Chicago Bulls. Kobe Bryant, if he also played twenty years with the Los Angeles Lakers, ended up on the kneecaps, his last three seasons being characterized by injuries and a declining level of play. As for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, also twenty seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers, he scored only 748 points in his twentieth season in 1988/89, when LeBron James was already halfway through. -season at 1,290 points.

Secret son? To keep in shape, “King James” spends crazy sums every year on cooks, dieticians, coaches and other personal massagers… Some media have even claimed that this “investment”, as he defines it, involves 1.5 million dollars per year.

Arrived in 2003 in the “Big League”, this player of 2.03 m for 113 kg then quickly clashes, despite his 18 years, with his club the Cleveland Cavaliers. “LeBron James is first of all a massive, heavy and tall body, an American footballer’s physique which has always allowed him to dominate by running, jumping, impact. Physically, he has always been out of the ordinary” , says Jacques Monclar.

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Unstoppable on the counter-attack or in penetration towards the circle, LeBron James quickly panicked the counters to become one of the best scorers in the championship: 20.9 points per game on average during his first season (2003/04), then 27.2 points per game the following season (2004/05) and 31.4 points in 2005/06. Comparisons with Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan are not long in coming. From there to imagine that he would one day beat Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record?

“No! Breaking the points record never even crossed my mind because I always had a passer mentality first. I always liked to see my teammates succeed”, explained LeBron James at the beginning of January on the chain of American sports ESPN.

LeBron James or Michael Jordan: the eternal debate

If this statement needs to be qualified, there is no doubt that the quadruple NBA champion (in 2012 and 2013 with the Miami Heat, in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers and in 2020 with the Los Angeles Lakers) and double Olympic champion (2008 and 2012), in more than being a prolific scorer, he also knew how to distinguish himself in the pass – he also recently passed 4e in the ranking of the best passers in history – in rebounds and steals.

“He is the most complete player in history, says Jacques Monclar. He has been able to have his way of playing evaluated over the years according to what he has mastered technically and an ability to control all the elements of the game. which is phenomenal. On the other hand, he is right when he says he wanted to see his team-mates succeed, he is a player who has never been self-centered.”

A state of mind that did not prevent him from collecting individual distinctions: LeBron James was elected four times Most Valuable Player (MVP) – best player – of the NBA (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013), four times Finals MVP (2012, 2013, 2016, 2020), was selected 19 times for the All Star Game, of which he was voted MVP of the match three times (2006, 2008, 2018), and was named best ” rookie” (beginner) in 2004.

Now the best scorer in NBA history, is LeBron James simply the best player the basket has known? The debate, which has raged for several years in the United States, has been heated in recent weeks as the record nears. Michael Jordan or LeBron James? MJ or LBJ? “That’s the eternal question…, sighs Jacques Monclar. Everyone has their own arguments, coming across such and such a statistic. It’s like in football. Is Lionel Messi better than Maradona or Pelé? It’s very difficult to compare. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James made history. But for me, Michael Jordan remains the man who transcended the basket.”

One thing is certain: LeBron James, who dreams of ending his career playing a final season with his 18-year-old son Bronny, currently in his final year of high school, should keep this record for a long time. At this rate, he could even become the first NBA basketball player to exceed 40,000 points next season. Simply incredible.


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