Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).
How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?
With a turnaround free-throw line jumper in the thrid quarter Tuesday night against the Thunder, LeBron passed Abdul-Jabbar to take over the NBA’s all-time scoring record.
LeBron James hits the fadeaway jumper to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer! #ScoringKing pic.twitter.com/P5LyTZAZn3
— NBA (@NBA) February 8, 2023
Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,388
How long has Kareem held the scoring record?
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set the all-time scoring record — too less fanfare than is happening with LeBron (although Wilt Chamberlain was unhappy with all the attention KAJ was receiving) — on April 5, 1984, when he scored his 31,420th point, breaking the record which had been held by Chamberlain. This was the height of the Showtime Lakers era and the team made the Finals that season but lost in seven games to Larry Bird and the Celtics. The Lakers would win the NBA title three of the next four years and Kareem would keep adding to that point total and his legacy until he retired after the 1989 season.
News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:
• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be in the building Tuesday night in case LeBron does break his scoring record. (Wilt Chamberlain was not in the building when Kareem passed him to take over the top spot.)
• LeBron James wouldn’t be on the cusp of this record without a deep-seated belief in himself, something he expressed without reservation to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register (and Southern California News Group).
“What I bring to the table as a basketball player … I feel like I’m the best basketball player that ever played the game,” he said. “That’s just my confidence, that’s just what I bring to the table, what I possess. But as far as if the scoring record gets me to another level, I don’t know.”
What else would you expect him to say?
• LeBron tuned out the Lakers’ Kyrie Irving trade speculation — at least until after the game — and dropped 27 points on the New Orleans Pelicans Saturday night, shooting 10-of-22 overall but 1-of-7 beyond the arc. It wasn’t enough as the Pelicans snapped their 10-game losing streak, 131-126, behind 35 points from former Laker Brandon Ingram. This was a tough loss for a Lakers team trying to climb up in the West standings, but it puts LeBron within striking distance of the record next game.
LeBron James climbs closer to history with a 27-PT performance 👏
He’s only 36 PTS away from the NBA’s all-time scoring record. pic.twitter.com/L52jRTgmRw
— NBA (@NBA) February 5, 2023
• LeBron scored 26 points and added seven rebounds and seven assists on Thursday night. He also gave the Lakers their first lead of the game on a 3-pointer with 2:35 left, and the Lakers held on to beat the Pacers 112-111. LeBron shot 11-of-19 from the floor and 2-of-5 from 3 for the game.
• LeBron had his first triple-double of the season — and became the first player ever with one in his 20th season — scoring 28 points with 10 rebounds and 11 assists — to help lead the Lakers past the Knicks in overtime on Tuesday night. With those 11 assits LeBron moved past both Mark Jackson and Steve Nash to be fourth on the NBA’s all-time assists list.
LeBron tonight in the Lakers W:
👑 28 PTS
👑 10 REB
👑 11 AST
👑 Moves to 4th all-time in assists
👑 1st player ever with triple-double in season 20
89 points to the all-time scoring record. pic.twitter.com/urkL55I9YI
— NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2023
• LeBron James did suit up to play Tuesday night against the Knicks (in Madison Square Garden on national television, that shouldn’t have been a surprise). Anthony Davis was cleared to play as well.
• After sitting out against the Nets on Monday, LeBron is officially questionable to play Tuesday in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks and will be a game-time decision. Lakers coach Darvin Ham said LeBron has “really significant soreness” in his left foot (after playing 44 minutes against Boston). LeBron and the medical staff will speak after LeBron starts to warm up Tuesday to determine if LeBron can play in Madison Square Garden, a game he hates to miss because he loves playing in that venue.
• The Lakers have officially listed LeBron (and Anthony Davis) as out for the game Monday night in Brooklyn. That is the first game of a back-to-back for the Lakers, and they have rested LeBron in half of those for most of the season. This will push back the date he breaks the record, making it likely it happens at Crypto.com Arena.
• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.
LeBron in Boston…
117 points to the all-time scoring record. pic.twitter.com/TQCBGgFJAV
— NBA (@NBA) January 29, 2023
• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”
• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.
• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”