The NBA has a new scoring king. On Tuesday night, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James unseated Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, breaking a record that was once thought untouchable.
This milestone moment was years in the making and was celebrated with the full pomp and circumstance of a momentous achievement. For James, a four-time NBA champion, four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP, passing Abdul-Jabbar’s hallowed record of 38,387 points reflects an unmatched standard of consistency and scoring prowess across 20 seasons.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the evolution of the NBA scoring record, from Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and now LeBron James. We’ll also explore James’s journey to the top of the scoring charts, the impact of the three-point line, and the family affair that made this evening even more special.
The NBA scoring record has been held by three of the greatest players to ever grace the court. Wilt Chamberlain was the first to reach the top spot, followed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and now LeBron James. But James’s journey to the top of the scoring charts is unlike any other.
James entered the NBA straight out of high school at 18, giving him a head start on Abdul-Jabbar, who spent four years at UCLA and debuted at 22. He also had the benefit of the three-point line, which was incorporated into the NBA in 1979-80 — Abdul-Jabbar’s 11th season. James has connected on more than 2,200 three-pointers and counting, while Abdul-Jabbar made just one three-pointer during his career.
James also transformed himself into a reliable three-point shooter, and his every shot was greeted with excited shouts from the crowd. He surpassed Abdul-Jabbar in fewer games (1,410 to 1,560), with a higher scoring average (27.2 points per game to 24.6) and at a younger age (38 to 42).
James has long prided himself on his ability to balance scoring and playmaking throughout his career, regularly stating that he tries to “play the right way” rather than pad his own scoring numbers. He now ranks first all-time in scoring and fourth all-time in assists, trailing only John Stockton, Jason Kidd and Chris Paul.
The evening was made even more special by the presence of James’s family, friends, and celebrity guests. Basketball royalty and A-list Hollywood celebrities dotted the crowd, including Denzel Washington, Jay-Z, Floyd Mayweather, Shannon Sharpe, Dwyane Wade, and James’s mother, wife, and children.
James is under contract through the 2024-25 season and said recently that he is “not going anywhere” and plans to play “at least a few more years.” He is on track to become the first NBA player to score 40,000 points — and he could exceed that threshold by a considerable margin.
LeBron James has officially become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, and it’s a milestone worthy of celebration. From his head start in the league to his transformation into a reliable three-point shooter, James’s journey to the top of the scoring charts has been one of consistency and scoring prowess. Join us as we take a look at the evolution of the NBA scoring record, from Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to LeBron James.