When Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James made a quick layup early in the second quarter against the Washington Wizards Saturday night, he made history. James passed up Hall of Famer Karl Malone to move into second place on the NBA all-time scoring list.
Like many of James’ accomplishments this season, it happened in a Lakers loss. His 31 points for the night, along with impressive performances from Russell Westbrook and Malik Monk, were not enough to save the Lakers from a fourth-quarter meltdown as they fell to the Wizards.
Just like the rest of the records broken and accolades earned this season, James held back his emotions to focus on the game at hand. A solid 15 seconds went by without James breaking his concentration. Finally, with most of Capital One Arena already on their feet, he waved to the crowd and relished in the moment for about 10 seconds before getting back in the rotation.
James had his mind set on the next two quarters of the game. When asked about eventually passing up Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for first on the same list, he had the same energy.
“I will not allow myself to think about it,” James said. “I’ve always just played the game the way I’ve been playing it over the years. These things have just happened organically by just going out and playing the right way.”
The King has already passed Abdul-Jabbar for regular season and postseason points combined, but many don’t consider playoff numbers for a “true” statistical analysis. Either way, James had made it clear that he has more important things on his mind.
James said in a postgame interview that he finds it difficult to separate Lakers’ losses with his accomplishments. His recent grand scoring games have been less focused on reaching scoring milestones and more about getting the Lakers some much needed wins.
“Trying to win every game, playing for my teammates and things of that nature and I’ve been putting myself in a position where I’ve been successful for the majority of my career,” James said.
Westbrook received some much needed love from Wizards
James wasn’t the only one who received cheers and adoration from fans in the Capital One Arena. Westbrook, who finished the night with 22 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and five turnovers, was met with crowd approval after he drained a late-game 3-pointer. Westbrook spent the 2020-21 season with the Wizards organization.
“I’m very appreciative of the overall organization and the fans,” Westbrook said after the game. “They welcomed me and my family with open arms since day one when I got here. A lot of people last year were counting us out as a team and guys are still here and coaching staff as well. It was good to see a lot of those guys.”
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