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Sunday, May 26, 2024

LeBron James breaks NBA all-time scoring record

Recapping a historic night and fans’ reactions to one of the biggest milestones in NBA history


By PATRICK FIGUEROA — sports@theaggie.org


On Tuesday, Feb. 7, LeBron “King” James and the Los Angeles Lakers were set to play against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Crypto.com Arena. James needed 36 points to break the NBA all-time scoring record, previously held by Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 38,387 points. It would take a great performance from James if he wanted to break the record that night, and fortunately for fans, it was a special night for the 38-year-old small forward from Akron, Ohio. 

James scored eight points in the first quarter, but he began to pick up the tempo quickly, scoring 12 more points in the second quarter. He needed 16 points in the second half to break the all-time scoring record. The third quarter was his best — he scored 15 points with 30 seconds still remaining in the quarter. With the crowd screaming his name and 10.9 seconds left in the third quarter, LeBron shot his signature post fadeaway 14 feet away from the basket and made history

After 20 years in the NBA, James accomplished a feat that many thought was impossible. Upon doing so, the officials stopped the game for a ceremony to honor the historic moment. During this ceremony, Abdul-Jabbar handed James the basketball that James had broken the record with to symbolize the passing of a torch. James also took a moment to speak to the Crypto.com Arena crowd and the national audience on television. 

“I just want to say thank you to the Laker faithful,” James said. “You guys are one of a kind. To be able to be in the presence of such a legend and great as Kareem, it means so much to me. It’s very humbling.” 

He took the time to thank his family, friends and anyone who had been on the journey with him for the past twenty years. He also thanked the NBA, its commissioner Adam Silver and the previous commissioner, the late David Stern. He ended his speech by acknowledging how unreal the moment was. 

“I would never ever in a million years dreamt this even better than what is tonight so […] thank you guys,” James said before he left the microphone.

Since James entered the league in 2004, he was expected to be the heir to Michael Jordan as the greatest player of all time. The pressure and high expectations to be the best ever began in St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, where he was dubbed “The Chosen One.” While the debate about who the greatest basketball player of all time is continues, there is no doubt that LeBron has surpassed even the lofty expectations set for him. Since he was drafted by his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, in 2004, LeBron has accomplished many impressive accolades.

My favorite LeBron moment is ‘The Witness’ buzzer beater over the Orlando Magic in the 2009 Eastern [Conference] finals,” said basketball enthusiast Myles Roach. “That’s one of my earliest basketball memories, and I remember screaming when his three-pointer went down.”

“The easy answer is the 2016 Finals; that was historic, but I would go with game one of the 2018 Finals against the Warriors,” Omar Navarro, an NBA fan and previous sports editor for The Aggie, said. “The game gets overshadowed because of what happened with JR Smith at the end of regulation and because the Cavs lost, but that might be the best game I’ve ever seen any basketball player play.”

James already broke the NBA record for most combined points in the regular season and playoffs, as well as the all-time playoff scoring record, and his incredible performances in playoff games are definitely a highlight of his career. For instance, he averaged 34 points, 9.1 rebounds and nine assists per game during the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2018 playoff campaign. He was also integral to one of the most iconic plays in NBA Finals history: a chase-down block in game seven of the 2016 NBA finals that propelled the Cavaliers to win the game and complete an unfathomable 3-1 series comeback. 

James has also made a significant impact off of the basketball court as an activist. He founded the ‘I Promise School’ Foundation in his hometown, Akron, Ohio, to serve at-risk, inner-city children.

“I think his impact off the court is something that will also be talked about a lot by the time he retires,” Navarro said. “Whether it’s his foundation or just how outspoken he is, he’s been as involved as any athlete we’ve seen. We’ve seen him make such an impact, and I think that’s something we can’t take for granted either.” 

“LeBron’s ‘I Promise School’ is probably the best thing I’ve seen a professional athlete do outside of their profession,” Roach said. “LeBron is using his immense wealth to help children from the community have access to a fully-funded school education with support for families in need.”

Almost as soon as LeBron broke the scoring record, NBA fans began to discuss whether it could be broken again. While the answer is uncertain, there is speculation that if LeBron continues to play for a few more years, the record might become untouchable. 

“I think as close as I can get to 100% without fully guaranteeing it,” Navarro said. “[The] only reason I’m not saying it’s a certainty is because I’m sure when Kareem retired they felt that it was never going to get broken. But I feel confident saying, by the time LeBron retires, he’s going to get it high enough that it’ll take something incredible to ever break the record again.” 

Roach disagreed — though he did acknowledge that depending on how long Lebron continues to play for, it could become impossible. “I think the record will be broken, but it will take a player that matches at least some of LeBron’s longevity with a shot profile centered around threes and free throws. However, I think it’s also very possible LeBron defies father time and plays five more years making his scoring record unimpeachable.”  

Even if the scoring record is broken again, James reminded everyone that he is a generational talent. With unprecedented longevity, he has the opportunity to continue adding to his legacy during this season and beyond. One can only wonder what he will accomplish next as the “King” continues to solidify his legacy as the best ever. 


Written by: Patrick Figueroa — sports@theaggie.org