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LeBron James breaks NBA’s all-time scoring record

Watch LeBron James' record-breaking basket, making him the NBA's all-time points leader.

LeBron James

The NBA community has been following LeBron James’ basketball career closely ever since the phenom began making waves for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. But millions of talented athletes never reach much more success than they do during their high school years. That hasn’t been the case with James. At all.

Instead, the Ohio native capitalized on a dominant career that saw him become the first high school basketball underclassman to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated and later be named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. NBA scouts were all over James in high school, and it led to the 6-foot-9 forward being selected No. 1 overall by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003.

Again, unlike many other athletes who receive great fanfare before they’ve even played in their first professional game, James never caved to the pressure or fame. Instead, he quickly became a true sensation, becoming the 2003-04 NBA Rookie of the Year, leading the Cavs back to the playoffs in his third season. He then made the playoffs for the next 12 seasons, winning NBA Championships in 2012, 2013, 2016, and 2020.

We’ve seen James accomplish everything in his Hall of Fame basketball career, where he recently set an NBA record for the most times named to an All-Star team (19 times). We can’t say he never won a ring or even multiple rings.

We also can’t say James wasn’t a winner, that he didn’t give it his all, or that he didn’t live up to the hype. He lived up to the hype and so much more.

Now we’re celebrating James’ latest accomplishment, which somehow may be bigger than anything else he’s done in his iconic career.

Related: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar opens up about LeBron James nearing his all-time scoring record

LeBron James’ record-breaking bucket

Needing just 36 points to eclipse Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most points scored in NBA history entering Tuesday night’s game against Oklahoma City, James was no sure bet to break the record. At least not on Tuesday. James had been averaging 23.3 points per game coming into the matchup, but clearly, this was a 38-year-old on a mission.

James put on an absolute show for the fans in attendance at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California. Despite playing in what was his 1,410th regular season game in his career, James rarely looked like someone who could be close to retirement.

Instead, James looked like the four-time NBA MVP we’ve come to enjoy over his two decades in the league. With only the Thunder standing in the way of James making history, they bore virtually no chance of preventing the inevitable.

Late in the third quarter of Tuesday night’s matchup, James scored his 36th point of the game on a 21-foot fadeaway jumper. This seemingly routine basketball play will forever be embedded in NBA history as THE bucket James scored to permanently etch his name into the record books.

Here is James’ record-breaking shot.

The NBA wisely stopped the game as soon as James’ shot fell, playing a clip recognizing the basketball legend’s accomplishments on the Crypto.com arena’s video board. Shortly after, NBA commissioner Adam Silver made a brief speech, as James teared up in response while taking the time to say a few words of his own, which may have included an ‘F-bomb’ on live TV, but it’s LeBron, what are you going to do?

Abdul-Jabbar was also in attendance to celebrate the momentous achievement, for which he handed a basketball to James, almost as if he were passing the torch to the new scoring leader.

Now James is in sole possession of being the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, and it’s safe to say no one is catching him any time soon, if ever. But that’s probably what they said about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar back in 1989 too.

LeBron James’ career point total (reg. season)38,388 points
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career point total (reg. season)38,387 points
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference

Since this accomplishment has taken place over the course of 20 years, it may not present the question of “where were you when LeBron James broke the NBA scoring record,” but that’s OK.

Anyone who has witnessed ‘King James’ score some points over the course of his career has already been a part of history. Yet it’s still hard to ignore the moment when James hit the record-breaking shot as a memory many will never, ever forget.

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