Lakers News: LeBron James Chasing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Scoring Record
LeBron James, Lakers
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

By the time Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played his last regular season game on April 22, 1989, he had set NBA records for most career points (38,387), most career field goals made (15,837), and most minutes played (57,446). Those three records still stand today.

However, as the great Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz once said, “(life is true to form); records are meant to be broken.”

At his retirement, Abdul-Jabbar had also amassed the most blocked shots in league history (3,189), but Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo have since broken that record. Today LeBron James is closing in on the holy grail of all basketball records, Abdul-Jabbar’s most career points.

Pacing Towards the Record

In September, when James agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension with the Lakers through the 2024-25 season, it all but guaranteed that if he were to break the scoring record, it would be in the same jersey that Abdul-Jabbar wore for the majority of his career.

James scored his first professional points for the Cleveland Cavaliers on October 29th, 2003, after being drafted first in the 2003 NBA Draft. He played in Cleveland for seven seasons before signing with the Miami Heat in 2010. James amassed 7,919 points in Miami, playing in 294 games before returning to the Cavaliers in 2014 for four more seasons in Ohio.

With his two stints in Cleveland, he played in 849 games and scored 23,119 points, leaving him the career leader for the Cavaliers in both games played and total points. Since coming to Los Angeles four seasons ago, James has played in 248 games and has scored 6,720 points for the Lakers.

James has already passed NBA legends Micheal Jordan (32,292), Kobe Bryant (33,643), and Karl Malone (36,928) and sits firmly in second place on the all-time scoring list.

James’ 38 points on Christmas day against the Dallas Mavericks have left him just 629 points behind Abdul-Jabbar. He’s currently averaging 27.8 points per game for the Los Angeles Lakers this season, which is almost a point better than his career scoring average of 27.1 points per game. If he continues at this season’s pace, he’ll need 23 games to surpass 38,387 career points.

When Does The Record Fall?

Trying to guess when James will break Abdul-Jabbar’s record is like predicting what the NBA in-play betting spread is at any given moment; very difficult. Several variables are in play, not all under James’ complete control. While he’s unlikely to be traded, he’s no lock to play in each of the next 23 games for the Lakers.

And then, there are other significant questions. Will he continue to score at his present rate as the season winds on? Will James avoid an injury that could slow his progress toward the record or even end his career at any time? Where does that leave him?

At the current rate of play, scoring at the rate he’s been scoring, James will need 23 games played, scoring 27.1 points per game, to eclipse the record. James has played in 25 of the Lakers’ 33 games (76%) this season, missing games to injury or rest.

If he plays the next 23 games straight, James could break the record on February 9th against the Milwaukee Bucks. If we take James’ current game pace, he should be at or near the record in the Lakers’ 64th game on March 3rd at Arena against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

TNT, ABC, ESPN, and NBA TV will be nationally televising 9 of 15 Lakers games between February 9th and March 12th, likely in anticipation of James breaking the record sometime between those dates. If the Lakers are out of playoff contention by then, they could manage his playing time to match the TV schedule or a home date.




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