LeBron James celebrates after passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record
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LeBron James has officially become the all-time top points scorer in the NBA after surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record against Oklahoma in Los Angeles on Tuesday (7 February) night.
The 38-year-old Lakers player went into the game needing to score 36 points on the night to set the all-time regular season scoring record. He went on to score 38, though it was not enough to prevent the Lakers suffering a 133-130 defeat.
It was long thought that Abdul-Jabbar’s regular season scoring mark of 38,387 career points would never be surpassed, after he beat Wilt Chamberlain’s earlier record back in 1984.
Abdul-Jabbar himself also played for the Lakers and while the current team have struggled at times this season, James himself has been averaging 30 points.
This will be remembered as one of the most historic nights in NBA history as many experts thought Abdul-Jabbar’s points total was unattainable for an athlete today.
After his historic shot, James outstretched his arms, threw both hands in the air, then smiled, facing the stands. Abdul-Jabbar, who had been invited to attend the game, stood up from his seat and clapped as the crowd roared.
The game was briefly stopped as some family members of James, including his wife, mother and his children, took the floor for a ceremony recognising the moment.
Addressing the arena, James urged the audience to give a “standing ovation to the captain” Abdul-Jabbar.
“I just wanna say thank you to the Laker faithful,” he said. “You guys are one of a kind. To be able to be in the presence of such a legend as great as Kareem, it means so much to me. It’s very humbling.
“Please give a standing ovation to the captain, please … To my beautiful wife, my daughter, my two boys, my friends … man, everybody that’s ever been a part of this run with me the last 20 years… I just wanna say I thank you so much ‘cause I wouldn’t be me without y’all.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver called it a “remarkable” feat to break the all-time record.
“I think it’s such a testament to him. And he’s not just sort of at the end of his career just like hanging around to get that record. He’s still playing at an incredibly high level. I think it’s spectacular,” he said.
Abdul-Jabbar’s was the most important individual record in the sport and one that most people thought would never be broken, said former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy.
Abdul-Jabbar became the league’s all-time leading scorer on 5 April 1984, and retired in 1989 with 38,387 points.
In the years since, other legends of the game have approached the record but retired some distance short, including Karl Malone who was 1,459 points shy, Kobe Bryant with 4,744 points short, and Michael Jordan was 6,095 points away.
James, 38, passed all of them before catching up with Abdul-Jabbar in his 20th season.
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