LeBron James became the NBA's all-time leading scorer on Tuesday, breaking the record of 38,387 points set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on April 5, 1984 — nine months before James was born. James broke the revered record late in the third quarter of Tuesday night game between his Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. James needed 36 points to beat Abdul-Jabbar's record when the game started.
Celebrities and basketball luminaries, including Abdul-Jabbar, 75, crowded in L.A.'s Crypto.com Arena, where a pair of courtside seats were listed on Ticketmaster for $75,000 apiece hours before tipoff, The Washington Post reports. "James surpassed Abdul-Jabbar in fewer games (1,410 to 1,560), with a higher scoring average (27.2 points per game to 24.6), and at a younger age (38 to 42)," though James got a head start, entering the NBA at age 18 to Abdul-Jabbar's 22.
James had slowly and steadily approached Abdul-Jabbar's scoring record, using a combination of consistency and longevity to rise past Michael Jordan in 2019, Kobe Bryant in 2020, and Karl Malone in 2022. Along with being the new NBA scoring king, James is also No. 4 in career assists and the all-time postseason scoring champion. He is under contract through the 2024-25 season, at least, the Post notes, so "he is on track to become the first NBA player to score 40,000 points — and he could exceed that threshold by a considerable margin."