LOS ANGELES — Kawhi Leonard and Los Angeles Clippers have won three games in a row, the latest over the Los Angeles Lakers. Around the league, however, much of the noise is around LeBron James, who is expected to become the NBA’s all-time scoring leader sometime in the next few weeks.
James, who scored 46 points on Tuesday night, is now 177 points away from tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record of 38,387 points. Following Tuesday night’s game, James has played 156 fewer games than Abdul-Jabbar, who set the record back in 1989.
The Clippers defeated the Lakers, but not without a fight from James, who was three points away from a new season-high mark in scoring. As James approaches the record, Kawhi Leonard acknowledged just how special LeBron James is.
“I didn’t think of it too much until he’s gotten closer and closer,” Leonard told ClutchPoints postgame. “But yeah. He’s a 1-of-1 talent right there. I mean, you see it for yourself, the way he’s playing at this age. Definitely inspirational for everyone, just to sustain that energy and that mindset to play that long and still wanting to go out and contribute with this effort. So, yeah, like I say, he’s an inspiration for everyone.”
Kawhi Leonard on LeBron James passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record:
"1-of-1 talent right there. You see it for yourself the way he’s playing at this age. It’s definitely inspirational for everyone just to sustain that energy and mindset to play that long." pic.twitter.com/3cuvq9Qe5w
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) January 25, 2023
LeBron James is 38 years old and, in his 20th NBA season, has been doing things that players his age shouldn’t be able to do. Through 38 games, James is averaging 30.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.9 assists on 51 percent shooting from the field.
Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said that he and James — who were together with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014 to 2018 — had conversations about potentially reaching the scoring record in the past, but it was still too distant to believe could be a reality.
“We talked about it, but now it’s actually here,” Tyronn Lue said pregame. “We talked about it like he had a chance and now look in his 20th year it’s right here, he’s knocking on the door. I’m just happy for him and all the accomplishments he’s had throughout his career because of the person he is. The giving person he is and all the things he’s done for so many people and to have this record we thought would never be broke, or broke for a long time, he’s here now. I’m just happy for Bron.”
LeBron James, however, says not to believe everything that comes from Lue regarding the scoring record conversations.
“Don’t let T-Lue gas you up like that,” LeBron James told reporters following the game. “T-Lue is lying. I never thought I could catch Kareem in scoring. It’s never been something that’s on my mind.”
"I never thought I could catch Kareem in scoring. It's never been something that's on my mind."
LeBron James speaking his truth after a 46-point scoring outburst in the Lakers' loss to the Clippers 🗣
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 25, 2023
“Being available, being able to play every single night is huge, but he’s been playing the same way for 20 years,” Tyronn Lue continued. “Making the right play offensively, being able to make the right pass, he’s been averaging 20 to 30 points for I don’t know how long. It’s just a steady ride. The biggest thing for him is he’s been available, but he plays the game the right way, he puts the work in and it’s funny we talk about LeBron being the all-time leading scorer when he’s a pass-first guy. Just what he’s done with his career to come in from Day 1 at 18 years old to now being 38 to be on top for this long just shows you the type of player he is and what he’s meant to our game.”
With 177 points to go, LeBron James could very well hit the record sometime next week, when the Lakers hit the road for a five-game road trip that includes a trip to the legendary Madison Square Garden.