The King Reigns Supreme: Lebron Breaks All-Time Scoring Record

Jake Ruderman ’26

Staff Writer

As the final seconds of the third quarter ticked down last Tuesday night, Lebron called for the ball while backing down his opponent. Standing only two points shy of passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time NBA scoring record of 38,387 points, Lebron caught the ball and entered his triple-threat stance at the right elbow. One pivot, three bumps into his opponent, then Lebron stepped back into his gorgeous fadeaway, falling from the left elbow as the ball flicked out of his hand on a dead-eye trajectory for the net. Swish. On his eighteenth shot of the night, Lebron had surpassed 36 points, enough to break the record with time left to spare in the third. The game stopped, media and camera crews flooded the court, fans cheered, and teammates hugged him (though noticeably not Russell Westbrook or Anthony Davis…). 

Lebron made his way around the court, talking to celebrities like Denzel and Jay-Z, hugging his wife, mother, and kids, then finally greeting NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, as well as NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at center court. In the ultimate show of class, Kareem not only attended the game, but came onto the court once the record was broken, congratulating Lebron and hand-delivering the “game ball” to him, signifying the passing of his 39-year-old record to the King. Lebron spoke to the crowd, thanking the Lakers fans, his family and friends, Kareem, the NBA, and expressing his gratitude for everyone that had helped him get to this point. 

So how did Lebron, not a typical score-first player, position himself to break such a longstanding and esteemed record? It’s a combination of both prolonged excellence and unprecedented longevity. This is Lebron’s 20th season in the NBA. 20! And he’s not just hobbling around the court for a few minutes a night – he’s averaging over 36 minutes per game, the 7th highest mark of anyone in the league. And this is nothing new to Lebron, as he currently sits third all-time in regular season minutes played and second all-time in regular season and playoff minutes combined. His durability is the truest testament to his greatness, as he has entirely avoided any major injuries, and has never missed more than 40 games in a given season. It’s certainly true that luck has played a role in lengthening his career, but the shocking amount of time and money that Lebron has spent taking care of his body have been the ultimate reason for his yearly endurance. 

Lebron has had the wherewithal from a young age to prioritize his body and his health, and has repeatedly taken excessive steps to ensure that he’s in the best shape possible for the season at hand and the next season ahead. Much like Tom Brady, Lebron has understood the value of longevity, and has crafted his body in such a way as to be able to withstand 100-game seasons every year with little rest in between. For any other 38-year-old athlete attempting to break a longstanding record like this one, a 36 point record-breaking performance would be off the table entirely. After all, 38 years old is ancient in comparison to the mid-20s, athletic, freak-of-nature-esque players that make up the NBA. But for Lebron, 36 points is almost nothing; in his 20th season, Lebron is currently averaging over 30 points per game, a feat which he’s accomplished only three times in his entire career. 

With a depleted and dysfunctional Lakers roster around him, Lebron has taken it upon himself to fill in the gaps, something he’s consistently done since he entered the league in 2003. His playstyle has changed depending on the other four guys sharing the court with him, and the Lakers’ biggest shortcoming this season has been their lack of scoring ability. Lebron has picked up the slack, averaging 22.8 field goal attempts per game (aka shots), the second highest mark of his career! And while age has certainly changed his playstyle, it’s hard to say it’s slowed him down – again, Lebron is averaging 30 points per game this year. He’s no longer the same athlete he once was, and he sits out far more games than he used to, but when the time comes, Lebron’s there, and he’s still playing elite basketball.

The only part of last Tuesday that wasn’t exactly perfect? The Lakers lost the game at home, 133-130, to the rebuilding (yet frisky) Oklahoma City Thunder. This brutal loss marked just another time this year the Lakers have looked absolutely incapable, both offensively and defensively, in what has been a complete disappointment of a season. Currently sitting as the #13 seed in the west with a 26-32 record, the Lakers are hoping to turn things around after restructuring their entire team at the trade deadline. With Westbrook now gone, and key role players coming in to help, the Lakers’ roster is undeniably more formidable than it was before. But, this team is going to have to prove that it’s competent enough to even make the playoffs, let alone have any real chance at the title; although, with a healthy Lebron and Anthony Davis, anything is possible. It’ll be up to Lebron to determine how much he pushes himself on a below-average Lakers team this year, but here’s to hoping that we get to see the King in the postseason once again, and with it, more remarkable accomplishments.

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