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Lebron James NBA scoring record chase: James becomes NBA’s new scoring leader

lebron james
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball superstar Lebron James is now in sole possession of one of the most prestigious landmarks in sports history: The all-time NBA scoring record. This space was our hub for fans to follow along as “The King” closed in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s legendary number.

While there are various notable narratives going on in the 2022-2023 NBA season, few will be as historically relevant as Lebron James’ chase to become the new all-time scoring leader in NBA history.

Related: 10 stars possibly on the move at NBA trade deadline

The 38-year-old was closing in on a mark that many league observers thought would never be surpassed. It is arguably the greatest record in the sport’s history and could very well give James the final accolade in his case to be considered the NBA GOAT.

How far is LeBron from passing Kareem?

lebron james
Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Some observers of the sport thought NBA icons like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant would top the current holder of the scoring record Kareem Abdul Jabbar. However, while they are among the top five of all-time, they never came close to the Lakers legend.

The Hall-of-Famer who did come closest was Karl Malone and his 36,928 points. In the end, after 19 and a half seasons, Lebron James set the all-time mark in the 55th game of the Lakers’ season.

  • Points LeBron James is away from NBA scoring record: 0
  • When James broke NBA scoring record: Feb. 7 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Before James eventually became the highest-scoring player in NBA history, he already placed himself among the immortals when he became only the second ever to surpass 38,000 points in the Lakers game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Jan. 15.

Top five all-time NBA scoring leaders

  • LeBron James – 38,388
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 38,387
  • Karl Malone – 36,928
  • Kobe Bryant – 33,643
  • Michael Jordan – 32,292

Who has the highest scoring record in NBA history?

For nearly 20 years, Hall-of-Famer Wilt Chamberlain held the record for most points scored in league history. He set the mark after just seven seasons in the NBA and added on to it until he retired in 1974. The mark set by the man who once scored 100 points in a game at first seemed insurmountable. That was until Lou Alcindor entered the league in 1969 and began to blaze a legendary trail of his own.

The NBA icon that would eventually be known as Kareem Abdul Jabbar needed 15 seasons to surpass Chamberlain at the top of the all-time NBA scoring list. After becoming the new king in April 1984, he would play five more seasons and finish with an absurd 38,387 points scored during his career.

But now that James is the new record-holder, we may not see this record broken again in our lifetime, if ever. James was unique in that he was able to enter the NBA straight out of high school. The NBA did away with this rule in 2005, but in 2024 the association will turn back to allowing players to enter the league after high school. Perhaps once those athletes can prove to have long, successful careers, we will speak about this record again.

Related: Updated NBA Rookie of the Year rankings

Lebron James’ December road to history

lebron james
Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Lebron James’ run to immortality has been hampered by injuries this season. However, in December he remained healthy and is playing at an All-Star level. This month alone, he is averaging 36.4 minutes and over 31 points a game.

From the Lakers’ win on Dec. 11 against the Pistons to a Christmas Day loss to the Mavericks, James posted 30 points or more in seven straight games. Yet, the aging legend turned back the clock and hit a high point on his 38th birthday.

  • Lebron James stats (2022-2023): 30.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 7.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 31% 3PT FG

On Dec. 30, the 18-time All-Star dropped a season-high 47 points in a 130-121 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

James finishes January 89 points away from NBA scoring record

lebron james
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA icon continued his hot play from December in his first game of 2023. In a Jan. 2 win over the hapless Charlotte Hornets, Lebron James dropped 43 points. It was the second time this season he scored over 40 points.

James inched even closer to the all-time mark the following week with big games against the Heat and Kings as he scored 32 and 37 points, respectively. Both were victories for the Los Angeles Lakers. However, he sat out a matchup against the Nuggets on Jan. 9 due to an ankle injury.

“The King” secured a special achievement in LA’s game against the 76ers on the 15th when the future Hall-of-Famer sank a jumper and became only the second player in NBA history to surpass 38,000 points.

Much like in December, James has been on a torrid pace in January. Scoring over 30 points on seven occasions, and three times surpassing 40 points in the month. Including a near 50-point showing in a win over the Houston Rockets on Jan. 16, then 46 points eight days later in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

As January draws to a close “The King” seems to be dead set on breaking the record sooner than later. He furthered his phenomenal play in the month in a Jan. 28 matchup with the league-leading Celtics. While the Lakers would go on to lose in overtime, James scored 41 in defeat. It was the fourth time in the month he surpassed the 40-point mark.

Related: Updated NBA MVP race

James sat out for the following game against the Nets, however, in the final game of the month against the Knicks he posted a triple-double (28 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists) and also entered the top five on the all-time NBA list for assists.

NBA scoring record in sight to begin February

lebron james
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After ending January with a spectacular triple-double in front of the Knicks faithful in Madison Square Garden, Lebron James led the Los Angeles Lakers to another win to kick off the month of February.

The 2022-2023 All-Star scored 26 in a victory over the Pacers on the road and the game brought him to within 63 points of the NBA scoring record heading into a Saturday matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Where does Steph Curry rank in all-time scoring?

lebron james, los angeles lakers
Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Curry is seen as the top-scoring talent in the NBA today and maybe all-time. Many fans wonder if he could eventually surpass James and Abdul Jabbar at the top of the all-time NBA scoring list. However, the 14-year veteran is well behind in the chase and would need to work very hard to make even the top 10.

As of this season, the four-time NBA champion is 42nd on the list with 20,843 points. He would likely need to play 10 more All-Star-level seasons, and stay healthy, to come close to the scoring record.

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