It can probably be said, with some measure of authority, that the one active NBA player who could be considered the face of the major pro basketball league as a whole right here and now, is none other than LeBron James, currently of the Los Angeles Lakers. In addition to his back-to-back 2012-13 NBA titles on his Miami Heat days, and breaking his first team’s title drought by leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to victory in 2016, James has also won team gold in two Summer Olympics. And now, he has joined the ranks of the NBA’s most illustrious top scorers.
CNN has it that as of last week, LeBron James has put himself within the Top 5 all-time scorers in NBA history, landing at the fifth spot and displacing its former occupant Wilt Chamberlain. During the Lakers’ game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center July 14, where LA won 126-117, James’ contribution of 44 points raised his all-time total to 31,420 which thus surpassed Chamberlain’s 31,419 point record. He also logged 10 rebounds and 9 assists in that contest with the Blazers. The Laker’s thus extended their current game-winning streak by four, with an 8-win 6-loss performance according to this NBA season’s standings.
At present, the only NBA All-Time Scoring greats who still have a bigger point total than James are his two immediate predecessors as the face of the league – Michael Jordan at 4th place (32,292) and Kobe Bryant at 3rd (33,643). Occupying the silver and gold ranks respectively are Karl Malone (36,928) and the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387).
Regarding his supplanting Chamberlain as 5th Top All-Time Scorer in the NBA, Bryant said of the former Laker player and coach – and Harlem Globetrotter among other teams – that he was “One of the most dominant forces we ever had in our game, along with Shaq. One of the greatest Lakers to ever play the game. A 100-point scorer. One of the greatest scorer-rebounders to ever play this game.”
At his new standing, the question has suddenly shifted from if LeBron James could move up the ranks and beat the other scoring legends, to when that would happen. USA Today made predictions on how many great-scoring games he needs to play to advance, with 32 games forecast to pass Michael Jordan’s 868-point advantage, 82 games to pass Kobe Bryant’s 2,219 points, 203 games for Karl Malone’s 5,504, and 256 games for a chance a Abdul-Jabbar’s top spot (6,963-point lead).
Back to the here and now, James and the rest of the Lakers will next be facing the Orlando Magic in Florida on November 18.
Image courtesy of The Guardian