LeBron James has made history by becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in regular-season games. With 38,387 points, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar held the record for almost 39 years until James broke it on Feb. 12, 2022, in a Lakers loss against the Golden State Warriors, eclipsing Abdul-Jabbar’s record of 44,149 points in total when postseason games are included.
Despite his achievement, it remains to be seen whether this record will be broken again in the near future. James is on track to surpass the 40,000-point mark next season, and he is under contract for one more season after that. However, there is no guarantee that he won’t continue playing, as he has expressed his desire to stay in the league long enough for his son, LeBron James Jr., to join the NBA, which won’t happen until 2024-25 at the earliest.
The closest player currently in the NBA to James on the all-time list is Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant, who has 26,684 points. However, Durant would need to play for at least another six or seven seasons to catch Abdul-Jabbar’s mark, and who knows how far James will raise the bar by then.
Philadelphia’s James Harden and the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook are just over 24,000 points apiece, but neither of them are likely to catch James. Dallas’ Luka Doncic is averaging 27.4 points per game so far in his career, but he would need to maintain that average for another 14 seasons to reach the 38,000-point mark.
So, unless the NBA introduces a 10-point shot, it is unlikely that anyone will break James’ record anytime soon.
To reach this point, James entered the NBA straight out of high school, whereas Abdul-Jabbar had a college career before joining the league. James was 18 when he scored his first NBA points, while Abdul-Jabbar was 22. James has been durable, particularly over the first three-quarters of his career, having missed only 71 games in his first 15 seasons. He has invested more than $1 million annually on his body, and Mike Mancias, one of James’ most trusted team members, has been responsible for his physical fitness.
When it comes to the “GOAT” debate (Greatest of All Time), James is certainly in the running. His longevity, achievements, and his unmatched 20-year career make him a strong candidate. Abdul-Jabbar should also be considered, with his sky hook being one of the most dominant weapons in basketball history. Michael Jordan, with six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, the most prolific 3-point shooter in the game, and Kobe Bryant, who had an 81-point game and five championships, are all contenders as well.
However, this record does not settle the debate on the greatest scorer ever. Jordan still averaged the most, with his 30.12 per game pace over his career just ahead of Chamberlain’s 30.07. James averages around 27 points per game, while Abdul-Jabbar averaged around 25.
Ultimately, the answer to the GOAT debate is subjective, and personal preference prevails.