Much of the last few weeks has been dedicated to honoring Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James for becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been present for not only the historic moment, but in two separate ceremonies since.
The second came at All-Star Weekend when James was introduced as the league’s leading scorer while sharing a stage with Abdul-Jabbar (who now ranks second) and Utah Jazz star Karl Malone (third). James has been celebrated in a number of ways already, but seemingly none were more surreal than Sunday night.
James described it as exactly that when asked about how it has been being honored in so many different ways, culminating with the celebration with Abdul-Jabbar and Malone prior to the All-Star Game. “It’s a surreal feeling,” James said.
“You know, obviously, I didn’t get an opportunity to watch Kareem live, but I know the history of the game. I got an opportunity to watch a lot of his games, the replays or seeing footage of him.
“I did get an opportunity to watch a lot of Karl Malone games live. To see the way they graced the court with their ability, you have the physicality of Malone’s game, but he has some finesse as well… Kareem’s game, a unique game that no one has ever been able to try to patent or try to steal from.”
The Lakers star went on to describe exactly why this celebration was so meaningful to him. “That moment for me is, like, I’m standing in between these guys, and I’m, like, it’s such a surreal feeling.
“Growing up — I know you hear this story over and over, but it’s just a part of my DNA. Growing up in Akron, Ohio, and thinking about playing games to 21 or 33 with my brothers and my friends growing up, we always would try to emulate certain players. And to be mentioned with some of the greatest to ever play this game, along with Karl and along with Kareem, it’s just an honor for sure.”
James, Abdul-Jabbar and Malone are likely going to remain at the top of the all-time scoring list for a long time. The nearest active player to the top three is Kevin Durant, currently sitting at No. 14 and over 10,000 points away from Malone.
Durant has scored an average of just under 2,000 points per season for his career, meaning he would need to keep his career average for at least another five seasons to pass Malone.
The next two active players on this list are James Harden (No. 27) and Russell Westbrook (No. 28). It would be almost impossible for these two to catch Malone given their age and location on the list.
James calls final regular season stretch the most important of his career
Now that the festivities are over and James is no longer focused on becoming the all-time leading scorer, his main focus is getting the Lakers to the playoffs. To do that, they need to overcome a multi-game and multi-team gap in just 23 games.
James called these 23 games the most important regular season games of his career. L.A. sits two games behind the 10th-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder, 3.5 games behind the sixth-seeded Dallas Mavericks and must overcome the 11th- and 12th-seeded Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers in the process.
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