Photo courtesy of The Ringer.

LeBron James graced the cover of “Sports Illustrated ” as a junior at St. Vincent St. Mary’s High School in Akron, Ohio. 

The cover read “The Chosen One” and would later be tattooed on his back. 

James was drafted first overall in 2003 to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers at the age of 18, with “Chosen One” on his back, and expectations of anything less than a Hall of Famer would be considered a failure. Despite all the unprecedented expectations of a teenager, there was one milestone not expected. 

(Courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

That would be Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s All-Time scoring record of 38,387 points.

Back in 1967-1968 the NCAA banned dunking. 

The rule was widely speculated to be implemented to stop Lew Alcindor, who would later be known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The rule, however controversial it may have been, may have been a blessing in disguise, as it allowed Alcindor to improve his overall game.  

Alcindor would implement his trademark shot, the skyhook, that would help him dominate the collegiate level. Alcindor was drafted first overall in the 1969 NBA Draft to the Milwaukee Bucks. On April 5, 1984, the former Lew Alcindor, now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the Los Angeles Lakers, passed former Laker Wilt Chamberlain to become the NBA all-time scoring leader. Abdul-Jabbar ended his career with 38,387 points; he also only has one three point shot made his entire career). 

(Andrew D. Bernstein / 2014 NBAE)

Abdul-Jabbar’s seemingly unbreakable record lasted 38 years.

In his substack post titled, “What I Think About LeBron Breaking My NBA Scoring Record,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote:

It takes unbelievable drive, dedication, and talent to survive in the NBA long enough to rack up that number of points when the average NBA career lasts only 4.5 years. It’s not just about putting the ball through the hoop, it’s about staying healthy and skilled enough to climb the steep mountain in ever-thinning oxygen over many years when most other players have tapped out.”

James entered the league with aspirations to win championships, but becoming the league’s all-time scorer did not seem like a realistic goal to many, even James himself. 

While entering the league, Jamespossessed an amazing passing ability, with tremendous athleticism. There was also this narrative that James was not really a scorer like Kobe Bryant, or Michael Jordan, and was more of a facilitator like Magic Johnson. 

Despite James having only one scoring title to date, his longevity and consistency allowed him to break the seemingly unbreakable scoring record.

Los Angeles Laker James broke Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record in a game hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder. With Abdul-Jabbar in attendance, the game was stopped in the third quarter to formally acknowledge the record breaking performance. 

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Abdul-Jabbar congratulated James, as Abdul-Jabbar passed the ball to James – symbolizing a passing of the torch. 


After breaking the record James believes he could play another five years, which would further increase his all-time record.    

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