From humble beginnings, LeBron James has risen to become one of the greatest athletes the world has ever known. The Lakers superstar has racked up a list of accolades longer than a country mile, including three NBA championships, 16 All-Star nods and 12 All-NBA First Team selections. Now in his 17th season of service, The King has a real shot at passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s all-time leading scorer.
Earlier this month (January), James moved into the 3rd spot on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, passing Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a tragic helicopter crash on Sunday. Be it by fate or by coincidence, LeBron passed Kobe while playing in his hometown of Philadelphia on the night before his death.
The moment LeBron passed Kobe for No. 3 on the NBA all-time scoring list 👑🎥 pic.twitter.com/Sdv1aSquP0
— ESPN (@espn) January 26, 2020
Some players might feel a certain way about being passed on such a list, but Bryant immediately sent out a congratulatory message to recognize James’ accomplishment.
In what became his last tweet, Kobe asked James to continue moving the game forward:
Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother 💪🏾 #33644
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 26, 2020
Now, LeBron James looks on to the top two spots, which are held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone, respectively. For years, analysts believed Kareem’s mark of 38,387 career points would never be topped. Now, however, those same experts are scrambling to calculate how much longer LeBron (33,655) needs to play to reach the proverbial mountaintop.
Time for some math…
James is currently averaging 25.3 points per game. If he can maintain that mark, he’ll finish this regular season with a career points total somewhere around 34,500.
Let’s say LeBron plays two more seasons after this one. Let’s also assume he can maintain an average of 20 points per game. Under this circumstance, which would include a clean bill of health, he would have just under 38,000 career points. Remember, Kareem had 38,387. Karl “The Mailman” Malone retired with 36,928 points.
James has a lot of mileage on his body, but he’s showing no signs of regression. His scoring average is a bit lower than seasons past, but he’s still finding ways to help his team win. Remarkably, LeBron is leading the league in assists at 10.7 per game. And with the addition of Anthony Davis in the offseason, the Lakers are viewed as one of the most formidable teams in the league.
Barring any unforeseen setbacks, it seems James will indeed be able to pass Kareem. The only question is: When? 20 points per game over the next two and a half seasons might be a tough ask for some players, but LeBron has what it takes to be the league’s all-time leading scorer.