There are few certainties in sport, but LeBron James breaking the NBA’s all-time scoring record is one of them. It is now a question of when, not if, this remarkable record chase will be achieved.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record of 38,387 points has stood for nearly 39 years, the Lakers great overtaking Wilt Chamberlain on April 5, 1984 – before James was even born.
As James himself has said, the NBA points record is one of sport’s great achievements, changing hands once since 1966, which makes his soon-to-be feat even more astonishing. Whatever mark James sets, it may never fall again. Not in our lifetimes, at least.
“I think it’s one of the greatest records in sports in general,” James said Thursday. “I think it’s up there with the home run record in baseball.
“It’s one of those records that you just don’t ever see or think that would be broken.”
James is now 63 points behind Abdul-Jabbar’s mark, with his career points total currently at 38,325, and could surpass the long-standing record within the week.
Could he do it against the Pelicans on Saturday? It is unlikely. James has never scored 63 points in a game. His highest game total was 61 in 2014 when he was a Miami Heat player, which means to break or tie the record on Saturday he will need a career-high score.
That is, of course, if he plays. He could miss the away game, as he did Monday against the Nets in Brooklyn, as he manages an ankle problem.
Going into Saturday’s game, James has been averaging 32.2 points per game in the last five games he has played. Again, an astonishing feat for a 38-year-old. In what is supposed to be the twilight of his career, James is enjoying one of his highest-scoring seasons.
For his career, his points per game average is 27.2.
The numbers mean James is more likely to break the record either on Tuesday, against the Oklahoma City Thunder, or Thursday, against the Milwaukee Bucks. Both are home ties.
But James has time on his side. Next Saturday, February 11, the Lakers are on the road, at the Warriors, though undoubtedly James would want his historic moment to happen before a home crowd.
Whenever and wherever James seizes the scoring crown, it will be a monumental occasion.
Feb 4: Lakers at Pelicans, 6pET on ESPN2
Feb 7: Thunder at Lakers, 10pET on TNT
Feb 9: Bucks at Lakers, 10pET on TNT
Feb 11: Lakers at Warriors, 830pET on ABC