With 38,387 career points, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar held the NBA’s all-time scoring record for more than 38 years. But history was made on Tuesday night when LeBron James surpassed the former basketball star to become the highest scorer in NBA history.
The Los Angeles Lakers star reached the coveted pinnacle during their 133-130 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder. With a few seconds to go in the 3rd quarter, James broke the record with a fadeaway jumper that was met with roaring applause from the crowd.
Prior to the game, James’ total career scoring points stood at 38,352, and he needed 36 to pip Abdul-Jabbar from the number spot, ESPN reported. The NBA champion scored 38 points. When the record was broken, the game was temporarily stopped for a ceremony in honor of the basketball superstar.
“I write ‘The Man In The Arena’ on my shoe every single night from Theodore Roosevelt,” James, 38, said. “Tonight, I actually felt like I was sitting on top of the arena when that shot went in, and the roar from the crowd. I’m not sure if I would be able to feel that feeling again, unless it’s a game-winning Finals shot.
“Everything just stopped. It gave me an opportunity to embrace it and look around and seeing my family, the fans, my friends. It was pretty cool. I probably can count on my hands how many times I have cried in 20 years, either in happiness or in defeat. So that moment was one of them when I kinda teared up a little bit. It was ‘I can’t believe what’s going on’ tears.”
Abdul-Jabbar, who was present at the game, handed the record-breaking basketball to James during the ceremony.
“LeBron’s career is one of someone who planned to dominate this game,” Abdul-Jabbar told TNT after the game. “And it’s gone for almost 20 years now. You have to give him credit for just the way he played and for the way he’s lasted and dominated. He has that indefinable essence that they call leadership.”
“I never thought that Kareem’s scoring record would be broken by anybody,” former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson also said. “It means even more to myself that you’re wearing that purple and gold, and broke it as a Laker.”