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LeBron James, assuming he plays, is expected to break Abdul-Jabbar’s record Tuesday evening against the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder in Los Angeles at 10 p.m. CST.
Nearly 21 years ago to this day, a teenage LeBron James was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the title “The Chosen One.”
It’s safe to say now that the four-time NBA MVP and four-time NBA champion has more than lived up to the endless media scrutiny and rookie hype.
With a “Chosen 1” tat on his back, the basketball prodigy never shied away from the spotlight and has represented himself with dignity throughout his historic 20-year NBA career.
Now, the 38-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star is 37 points from becoming the NBA’s leading scorer.
Former NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored a league-record 38,387 points in his 20-year career with the Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks.
A record held seemingly once every generation, born December 30, James would be birthed eight months after Abdul-Jabbar became the leading scoring record in April 1984.
Aging with more grace than Benjamin Button, James is currently averaging 30 points per game this season.
“I just want to win. Want to play the game the right way and see what happens,” said James, after scoring 27 points during the Lakers’ 131-126 road loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
Always a court genius, James was often challenged in his early NBA years to shoot the ball by rival teams.
Said James, “Early on, it was a lot of just speed and jumping and then figuring it out. And you get smarter and smarter, you say, ‘Teams know they can key on these things, so how can I make sure that I am unguardable and can always put myself in position where I do what I want to do and not what the defense wants me to do.’”
Franchise stalwart and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich once said, “I know when we used to play him, we just tried to stay in front of him and give him a lot of room,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “And if he shot it, we were happy.”
It is because of James’s inconsistent shooting, a debate has long existed, pitting James’s suspect shooting against his dominance as a facilitator or passer.
Arguing whether the soon-to-be leading scorer is a better passer may seem laughable on its face, but considering James now has the fourth most assists of all-time validates his double decade Swiss Army knife-like adaptability.
Millions will witness LeBron James make history
The game will be shown on TNT, a change that forced a reworking of that night’s entire schedule on the network.
According to AP News, TNT was supposed to show Atlanta at New Orleans, followed by Minnesota at Denver. Instead, it’ll show Phoenix at Brooklyn first, followed by the Thunder-Lakers game.
Lower-level seats for Tuesday’s potentially historic game in Los Angeles at Crypto.com Arena against the Oklahoma City Thunder start at $1,634 a piece, according to Vivid Seats.
Ticket prices for the Thunder game are on average 50% higher than the Lakers’ season average, StubHub said ahead of Saturday’s loss to the Pelicans.
“The anticipation of a sports icon accomplishing a historical milestone often dramatically boosts ticket sales so real fans can say: ‘I was there when,’” Adam Budelli, a spokesperson for StubHub, said.
“With LeBron James closing in on the NBA’s all-time regular-season scoring record, the Lakers are the hottest ticket in the NBA.”