LeBron James is now the greatest scorer in NBA history, after breaking a record that lasted for almost 40 years.
James passed NBA Hall of Fame legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s mark of 38,387 in the third quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ home clash against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After coming into the game needing 36 points to surpass Abdul-Jabbar, James exploded for 20 points in the first half before eventually breaking the record with a fadeaway jump shot.
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The made basket with less than a minute left in the third quarter resulted in a stoppage as a presentation was made by NBA commissioner Adam Silver as Abdul-Jabbar also joined in on the celebrations.
James was visibly moved by the moment, raising his hands to the air as he ran down the court before fighting tears as he spoke to the capacity crowd inside Crypto.com Arena.
“Thank you to the Laker faithful, you guys are one of a kind,” he said.
“To be able to be in the presence of such a legend and great as Kareem it means so much to me, it’s humbling. Please give a standing ovation to the captain please.
“To my beautiful wife, my daughter, my two boys, my friends, my boys, my family, my mother, anyone that’s ever been a part of this run with me the last 20-plus years, I just want to say thanks because I wouldn’t be me without y’all. All y’all help, all your passion, your sacrifices helped me get to this point.
“To the NBA, (commissioner) Adam Silver, the late, great David Stern, I thank you guys so much for allowing me to be a part of something that I always dreamed about and I would never ever in a million years have dreamed that it’s even better than what it is tonight.”
Abdul-Jabbar assumed the scoring record when he passed Wilt Chamberlain’s mark of 31,419 points during the 1983-84 regular season, before James was born.
“I thought it had every chance of being broken,” Abdul-Jabbar said after James broke his record.
“It just had to be somebody that the offence focused on continually. He’s going to extend this record even further, it’ll be interesting to see how far he goes.”
Unfortunately for James and the Lakers, the stoppage in play seemed to take the air out of the team’s comeback attempt, as the young Thunder ran out 133-130 winners.
James finished the game on the bench having scored 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting from the field to go along with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
The Thunder were led by All-Star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who scored a team-high 30 points, while Aussie youngster Josh Giddey added 20 points, five rebounds and six assists.
OKC’s win allowed it to leapfrog the Lakers in the standings with a 25-28 record while the Lakers dropped to 25-29 and 13th in the Western Conference.
Despite the Lakers’ paltry record, James said he still believed he could bring “multiple championships” to any team he plays for, seemingly putting the Lakers’ front office on notice to make a move ahead of Friday’s trade deadline to resuscitate the season.
“I know I can play a couple more years,” he said after the game.
“The way I’m feeling, the way my body has reacted to me throughout the course of the season, I know I can play a couple more years.
“It’s all about my mind. If my mind is still into it, if I’m still motivated to go out and try to compete for championships (I’ll continue to play), because I feel like that’s what I can still do for any group of guys, for any franchise.
“I can still go out there and still help win multiple championships or help win a championship, so that’s my mindset.
“If my mind is sharp and I feel motivated to go out and prepare myself every single day, then I can continue to play this game.”
Tributes poured out from all over the basketball world the moment James passed Abdul-Jabbar’s historic mark, namely from the man who brought him to Los Angeles: Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson.
Current players also paid tribute to James, with many anointing him as the greatest player to ever play the game. Long-time rival Kevin Durant was among those who paid tribute.
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