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NBA all time points leaders: From Michael Jordan to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

nba all time points
Credit: USA Today Network

With Lebron James closing in on history, many basketball fans are curious about who are the NBA all time points leaders. Well, you can stop your search here with our comprehensive rundown of the top 25 scorers in league history.

Unsurprisingly, the greatest scorers of all time include many NBA Champions and All-Stars. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the current king of scoring and the other 24 players on the NBA all time points leaders list.

Also Read: 20 best NBA players of all time

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. The mark set by the man who once scored 100 points in a game at one time seemed insurmountable. That was until Lou Alcindor entered the league in 1969 and began to blaze a legendary trail of his own.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers legend who would eventually be known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar needed 15 seasons to surpass Chamberlain on the NBA all-time points leaders list. He became the new king of scoring in April 1984 and would expand on that number for five more seasons before finishing his career with an absurd 38,387 points scored.

But then LeBron James came along. This child prodigy from Akron, Ohio, broke Abdul-Jabbar’s record in his 20th season of play during the 2022-23 season.

A record many thought would never be broken again now belongs to ‘King James’, yet even at the age of 38, he’s not done yet. James is still scoring at a high level and is likely to play at least one or two more seasons, giving him a chance to play with his son, Bronny.

This only means James will put the record even further out of reach for the next basketball wizard who comes along with incredible longevity, durability, and, clearly, a ton of skill.

Which players are top 25 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list?

nba all time points
Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

There have been many NBA competitors that were talented scorers. However, of the thousands of players that have come through the league over the last 70 years, few were able to score at a consistently high level for more than a few seasons.

New York Knicks great Patrick Ewing, Houston Rockets icon Hakeem Olajuwon, and five-time champion Tim Duncan are among the top 25 scorers ever. Below you can get a rundown of players 25 to 11 on the NBA all time points leaders list.

  • 25. Ray Allen (24,505)
  • 24. Patrick Ewing (24,815)
  • 23. Jerry West (25,192)
  • 22. Reggie Miller (25,279)
  • 21. Alex English (25,613)
  • 20. Vince Carter (25,728)
  • 19. Kevin Garnet (26,071)
  • 18. John Havlicek (26,395)
  • 17. Paul Pierce (26,397)
  • 16. Tim Duncan (26,496)
  • 15. Dominique Wilkins (26,668)
  • 14. Kevin Durant (26,684)
  • 13. Oscar Robertson (26,710)
  • 12. Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946)
  • 11. Elvin Hayes (27,313)

NBA’s All-Time scoring list: Top 10

nba all time points
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There are 10 players that stand above the rest when it comes to posting points in the National Basketball Association. Let’s take a look at the 10 players who were the very best scorers in NBA history.

10. Moses Malone (27,409)

Moses Malone was one of the greatest big men in history and a gifted scorer because of his uncanny ability to snatch up offensive rebounds. The Rockets and 76ers great owns the top four spots for offensive boards in a season, as well as in a single game. Many of those rebounds led to second-chance baskets and an easy route to land in the top 10 on the NBA all time points scoring list.

9. Carmelo Anthony (28,289)

Carmelo Anthony was a divisive talent that was often ridiculed for his lack of defensive effort. However, he will still go down as one of the more versatile scorers in the half-court that the league has ever seen. He could post up and use a multitude of moves to get high-percentage buckets, or pull up and hit a jumper from anywhere on the floor. Few were more well-rounded than Carmelo Anthony.

8. Shaquille O’Neal (28,596)

Shaquille O’Neal was a force of nature during his 20 years in the league because no player in NBA history was a more ferocious competitor in the post than “The Diesel.” He was never a gifted shooter, however, his outstanding touch and elite athleticism for his size let him bully players in the paint during legendary runs with the Magic, Lakers, and Heat. One can only wonder how much higher on the list he would be if he wasn’t a career 58% shooter from the free-throw line.

7. Wilt Chamberlain (31,419)

Wilt Chamberlain was a pioneer of the sport and one of its first dominant forces. He was an All-Star in all 16 seasons that he played and averaged over 30 points per game in his first nine seasons. Including a record that will never be topped, when he posted 50.4 points per game over 80 matchups in 1961-1962.

6. Dirk Nowitzki (31,560)

nba all time points
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Dirk Nowitzki put international basketball on the NBA map like it never had been before, and it was understandable why. The German had the shooting ability of Larry Bird in a body like Moses Malone. When he was on and hitting his fadeaway jumper, he was pretty much unstoppable. Dirk Nowitzki changed the game forever and opened the door for the exploits of other talented big-man shooters like Kevin Durant and Nikola Jokic.

5. Michael Jordan (32,292)

Michael Jordan is seen by many as the greatest player in NBA history. However, beyond being a tenacious defender, a born leader, and a ferocious winner, he was an excellent scorer. But along with his elite scoring, he could do it in the biggest moments, and on the grandest stages. No player among the top 10 NBA all time points scorers was more clutch than the Chicago Bulls legend.

4. Kobe Bryant (33,643)

Wilt Chamberlain has the record for most points in an NBA game at 100, however, many view Kobe Bryant’s 81-point masterpiece in 2006 as the best scoring game of all time. It was a showcase of his complete repertoire of scoring abilities. There was nothing the gifted athlete and five-time champion couldn’t do when it came to scoring. And like his mentor Michael Jordan, he was an amazing late-game shot-maker.

3. Karl Malone (36,928)

Up until recently, Utah Jazz icon Karl Malone was the No. 2 man on the NBA all time points scoring list. While Malone and teammate John Stockton are forever linked because of their pick-and-roll brilliance, it overshadows how talented a scorer Malone was. He could dominate in the post with his size, pull up and hit a J, or showcase his Shaquille O’Neal-like elite touch around the basket. Malone was the most well-round post-scorer of all time.

2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a truly special scorer. Yet, what makes his legend all the more fascinating, is that his ascent to the top of the NBA all-time points leaders list came along with inventing a shot no few did before and have never mastered since — the hook shot. While he will be surpassed by James, Abdul-Jabbar’s stranglehold on the record is still one of the great feats in sports history.

1. Lebron James (38,388)

There has been no player in NBA history like Lebron James. He entered the league as an 18-year-old in 2004 and delivered in every way possible despite the ridiculous hype surrounding him. Few players had anywhere near the same drive to get better as him, and the 19-time All-Star aged like fine wine. He went from being a freak athlete with amazing downhill talents to a fantastic scorer that could hit a shot from anywhere on the floor.

Lebron James is also only the second player in NBA history to reach 38,000 points and now holds the all-time mark. What a remarkable career, and he’s not done yet.

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