LeBron James took hold of the NBA’s nearly 39-year-old scoring record, leapfrogging Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his 38,387 points on Tuesday night. The Hall of Famer was on-site at Crypto.com Arena for the feat, and his reaction to the toppling of his record was top of mind for fans and media.
Abdul-Jabbar spoke to the NBA on TNT crew after the historic moment and was asked what he saw in James on Tuesday night and what he’s seen throughout the new record-holder’s 20 seasons in the league.
“LeBron’s career is one of someone who planned to dominate this game,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “He got out of high school, he had the size and the talent to step right into the NBA and he immediately started to have his effect. And it’s going for almost 20 years now. So I think you got to give him credit for just the way that he planned to last and to dominate. And he led his team, he led teams to three World Championships. They didn’t get there because of someone else and LeBron tagged along. LeBron led them, he has that indefinable essence that they call leadership.”
James’s storied career speaks for itself: four NBA titles, 19 All-Star selections, a four-time Finals MVP. And against the Thunder on Tuesday, he only added to his legacy with a 15-foot jumper in the third quarter that began the count for how many points the next all-time great will have to strive for to usurp James of his scoring title. As of Tuesday night, it is 38,390.
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Shaquille O’Neal noted on NBA on TNT that during his own career, Abdul-Jabbar’s record stood the test of time and he never thought it’d fall. Did Abdul-Jabbar ever think someone could break it?
“I thought it had every chance of being broken,” he said. “Just had to have somebody that the offense focused on continually. Game in and game out, the offense focused on them and enable him, or a player like myself to accumulate a whole lot of scoring.”