After Taking the NBA Points Scoring Record Is LeBron James the Greatest Of All Time?

By Ian John
February 8, 2023

Yesterday evening, near the end of the third quarter, LeBron James made history in the NBA.

Needing 36 points to surpass what was thought to be an unbeatable All Time Leading Scorer record set by the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 33,387 points, he received the ball and then landed a trademark fadeaway jumper to rack up the 33,388th point of his 20-year career.

James, clearly emotional after the record-busting score, raised his hands into the air as the crowd went crazy and in attendance was the 75-year-old, now former record holder, Jabbar who stood to applaud James’ incredible achievement.

Also in the audience were a number of other stars including John McEnroe, LL Cool J, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Denzel Washington, Bad Bunny and Jay-Z.

A break in play followed to allow James to take part in a small ceremony, after which James took the microphone to make a speech to those gathered to watch him try and beat the record against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“Everybody that has ever been a part of this run with me the last 20-plus years, I want to say thank you so much because I wouldn’t be me without all you. You all helped. Your passion and sacrifices helped me get to this point.”

“And to the NBA to Adam Silver, to the late great David Stern, thank you very much for allowing me to be part of something I always dreamed about. I would never in a million years dreamt this to be even better than what it is tonight.”

Jabbar handed him the ball he used to score the record-breaking score in a kind gesture during the ceremony.

By the end of the game, James had increased the mark to 33,390 points, but his Los Angeles Lakers teams struggles continued as they lost the game 130-133 to the Thunder.

Is LeBron The Greatest Of All Time?

Bet365 Sport still have LeBron James as a 50/1 outside to be named the league MVP despite his record achievement last night, with Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic the 4/6 favourite to land the honour for a third year in succession ahead of Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic.

In a week that has seen Kyrie Irving make a huge switch from the Brooklyn Nets to the Dallas Mavericks, last night’s record has seen many claim that LeBron is now the greatest NBA superstar of all time.

But what do the stats say?

  • All Time Scoring

LeBron now has scored more points in the NBA than any other player, amassing 38,390 so far from 1410 games, at a rate of 27.2 points per game.

However, at present, even in a struggling Lakers team, he is still performing at a very high level and scoring around 30 points per game.

The player himself has indicated that he would like to play on for a while yet, perhaps even taking on his son on an NBA Court in the future (His son, Bronny, is 18 and seems destined for a career in the NBA in the footsteps of his father).

That means that by the time that LeBron does eventually hang up his sneakers, the record could well have been moved on significantly further, with some speculating that the Lakers star has his eyes on surpassing 40,000 points.

He needs a further 1,610 points to achieve that landmark.

  • Points Per Game

However, there are some that argue that rather than total points, a better mark of a players greatness is just how many points per game they average across their whole career. After all some of the players listed in the top ten NBA All-Time Points Scorers list have played 300-400 fewer games than James has in his career.

On that list, James runs third on the list behind two other absolute legends of the game in Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan, who both averaged 30.1 points over 1045 and 1072 games respectively.

However, it should also be noted that James holds the record as being the youngest NBA star to reach every major points landmark in his career from 5,000 points up to 35,000.

Furthermore, James is also in the greatest NBA top ten lists for the number of assists made, steals, defensive rebounds, field goals and three-pointers made.

It is hard to find any other player that has enjoyed such incredible numbers at both ends of the court over a sustained period of 20 years with three different NBA teams.

Other Accolades

You also have to take into consideration that James has won only four NBA Championship rings, but he has been the NBA Finals MVP on four occasions, the NBA MVP on four occasions, a 19-time NBA All-Star selection and a three-time NBA All-Star Game MVP.

Bill Russell holds the record for the most individual NBA Championship wins with 11, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen have six, while Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Dennis Rodman and Tim Duncan are amongst a group of players with five.

James has also won Olympic Gold twice in 2008 and 2012 as a member of the US Basketball team.

He has also landed his four NBA titles with the the three different teams that he has played for, landing his first and second titles with the Miami Heat, his third with the Cleveland Cavaliers in his second spell with the team, and then he landed his fourth title with the Lakers in October 2020.

Lakers Legend Magic Johnson remarked:

“I never thought that Kareem’s scoring record would be broken by anybody. It means more to myself and to our fans because you’re wearing that purple and gold and broke it as a Laker. This historic moment is so special because we will never see another LeBron James.”

Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry also stated:

“Your sustained level of play for 20 years, reaching this pinnacle of scoring in basketball, it is unbelievable. Way down the road, when we’re reflecting back on our careers, we’ll be able to be at that level knowing what it was like to battle at the highest level.”

Whether or not LeBron James is the greatest NBA player of all time is a debate that will be contested for years to come.

But there is no doubt that by the end of his career, he may well have almost all the stats on his side.

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