One of the things that made Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar truly remarkable was his longevity. Very few players are able to have 20-year careers in the NBA and even fewer are able to remain as productive as Kareem did even in his later years.
When you play that long you are obviously going to set some records. Kareem’s scoring record is one that is still standing, but on Feb. 23, 1986, he made history in another way. As the Lakers took on the Philadelphia 76ers, Kareem passed fellow Hall-of-Famer Elvin Hayes to become the NBA’s all-time leader in games played with 1,304.
Kareem capped off the historic night with 28 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals and seven blocks as the Lakers pulled out a hard-fought 117-111 overtime win over the Sixers.
The Lakers also got 34 points and 11 assists from Magic Johnson, as well as 22 points from Byron Scott in the victory to improve their record to to 41-14. Michael Cooper and A.C. Green each added 10 points off the bench, as the Lakers needed every bit of help on this night.
The Sixers’ big man duo of Moses Malone and Charles Barkley gave everything they had to get the win. Barkley finished with 24 points and 18 rebounds, including 11 on the offensive end, while Malone had 27 points and 12 boards. Point guard Maurice Cheeks also added 18 points, nine assists, and four steals, but it just wasn’t enough in the end.
Nonetheless, the story on this night was Kareem, who was clearly far from done as he showed in this performance. He would go on to finish his career with 1,560 games played in his career, a number that was ultimately passed by Robert Parish who finished his career with 1,611.
Regardless, Kareem’s longevity and consistency remains something to be marveled at.
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