With 7:24 remaining in the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers, James passed Bryant with a layup, but the Lakers unfortunately still trailed 74-54.
After turning 35-years-old on Dec. 30, James has moved up numerous lists during the 2019-20 NBA season and will continue to do so in his 17th season.
Based on James’ career average (27.1 points per game) and if he stays relatively healthy (70 games per season), it will take him about 1.75 seasons to pass Utah Jazz legend Karl Malone (36,928 points) for second and 2.5 seasons to pass Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points) for first.
Although James has embraced being the team’s point guard and is leading the league in assists (10.8), he has a legitimate chance to become the league’s all-time leading scorer. Outside of a groin injury in his first season in Los Angeles, he is still playing at an MVP-level at this stage of his career.
While James is focused on helping the Lakers win their first championship since the 2009-10 season, this latest individual accomplishment is special.
Before passing Bryant and throughout the 2020 Grammy road trip, James said he ‘looked up’ to him for coming to the NBA straight out of high school.
As for Bryant, he has ‘nothing but love and respect’ for James’ latest accomplishment. When Bryant passed Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan (32,292 points) for third against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 2014-15 season, he received a text from him and will pay it forward now.
Although there will continue to be debates and fans trying to create conflict between Bryant and James, there is ultimately mutual respect between them.
With James officially passing Bryant against his hometown 76ers, the top-four scorers in league history have all played for the Lakers at one point.