LeBron James has stood second to just Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the NBA’s all-time scoring list since passing Karl Malone in March.
As he approaches Abdul-Jabbar’s record, he joined him with another scoring milestone on Sunday. With a jump shot from the top of the key against the Philadelphia 76ers, James scored his 38,000th and 38,001st career points. James and Abdul-Jabbar are the only players to ascend the 38,000-point plateau.
Abdul-Jabbar’s record now stands as the lone career scoring milestone remaining on James’ list. And it’s in sight. Sunday’s bucket against the 76ers left James 386 points behind Abdul-Jabbar’s career tally of 38,367 points. James finished the night with 35 points, not enough for the Lakers in a 113-112 76ers win.
Entering Sunday’s game, James was averaging 29 points per game, the third-highest rate of his 20-year career. He’s doing so at 38 years old. If he plays and keeps up the same average, that puts him on pace to pass Abdul-Jabbar in 14 games. The Lakers have 39 games remaining after Sunday’s game against the 76ers.
Assuming he stays healthy, James is on pace to pass Abdul-Jabbar sometime in mid-February. Nationally televised games against the Milwaukee Bucks (Feb. 9) and Golden State Warriors (Feb. 11) would make for nice settings. They would also require James to play every game until then while maintaining or exceeding his average.
Regardless, James’ fans shouldn’t have to wait too long to celebrate him as the NBA’s all-time scoring champion. Not bad for a player who’s been lauded by many as a better playmaker than scorer.