The rise and rise of the NBA’s all-time top scorer
LeBron James, widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, has become the all-time leading scorer of an NBA career, beating Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 39-year-old record.
With a total of 38,390 points, James surpassed Abdul-Jabbar’s long-standing record of 38,387.
In a hard-fought game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the 38-year-old broke the benchmark late in the third quarter with a fade-away jump shot over Kenrich Williams.
The basket was followed by a short break in play to mark the win, during which an emotional James addressed the crowd with a microphone.
“Anyone who has ever taken part in this run with me over the last 20+ years, I want to thank you so much because I wouldn’t be me without you. You all helped. Your passion and sacrifice have helped me get to this point,” he said.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ceremonially passed the ball to James in front of a lively crowd that included notable figures such as tennis star John McEnroe, musicians Jay-Z, LL Cool J and Bad Bunny, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and actor Denzel Washington .
In honor of LeBron’s recent major accomplishment, we thought we’d take a look at his extraordinary journey from high school prodigy to cultural icon.
From child prodigy to NBA
James was born on December 30, 1984 in Akron, Ohio and it was clear from a young age that he had a talent for basketball.
He was a dominant force on the pitch, and his exceptional skills caught the attention of Boy Scouts from across the country.
In his senior year of high school, LeBron was considered the top high school basketball player in the country and was billed as the second coming of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
In 2003, he was selected by his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the first overall pick in the NBA draft, where he would go on to build the team into a championship contender.
And he didn’t disappoint.
In his rookie season, LeBron became the youngest player in NBA history to score more than 20 points in a game and was named NBA Rookie of the Year.
Over the next few years, LeBron was soon considered one of the best players in the league.
Turn up the heat
After leading the Cavaliers to new heights, the forward joined the Miami Heat in 2010, teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a super team.
The move was highly controversial as many felt that LeBron took the easy way out by teaming up with two other All-Stars rather than attempting to win a championship alone.
But despite fan criticism, LeBron once again proved his worth on the court, helping the Heat make four straight NBA Finals and two championship appearances from 2011-14.
LeBron’s time with the Heat was marked by some of the most memorable moments of his career, including a game-winning shot in Game 2 of the 2013 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs and a dominant performance in Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics.
the return of the King
While LeBron found great success with the Miami Heat, he still had unfinished business in his hometown.
In 2014, LeBron made the decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, just four years after leaving for the Heat.
In his first season with the Cavaliers, LeBron helped lead the team to the NBA Finals where they faced the Golden State Warriors. Despite losing in six games, LeBron’s performance was impressive as he averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game in the Finals.
The following year (2016), LeBron helped lead the team to its first-ever NBA championship. The championship was of particular importance to Cleveland because it was the city’s first major sports championship in over 50 years.
LeBron’s performance in the 2016 Finals was unforgettable as he averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game and hit the winning shot in Game 7 to give the Cavaliers their first-ever championship.
Avengers of Los Angeles
In the summer of 2018, after spending four seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers and four seasons with the Miami Heat, LeBron decided to bring his talents to LA where he signed a four-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron’s move to LA was met with great enthusiasm as Lakers fans were excited about what the future held with the four-time NBA MVP on their team. The Lakers had missed the playoffs for the past five seasons and desperately needed a player of LeBron’s caliber to turn the franchise around.
And that’s exactly what he should do.
In 2020, LeBron helped the Lakers reach the 2020 NBA Finals where they won the championship against the Miami Heat. This was LeBron’s fourth championship and his first with the Lakers.
A cultural icon
But James is more than just a basketball player.
Over the course of his nearly two-decade career, he has transcended sport to become a cultural icon.
He has used his platform to raise awareness of important social and political issues, use his voice to speak out against systemic racism, and advocate for racial justice and equality.
He was also a staunch advocate of education, opening an “I Promise” school for at-risk children in his hometown in Ohio and investing in educational initiatives aimed at creating a level playing field for underprivileged students.
Aside from his philanthropic activities, James has important endorsement deals with Nike, Coca Cola, GMC, AT&T and many other multinationals. He also owns a piece of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool football club.
His entertainment company SpringHill — named for the modest apartment complex where he grew up — is valued at $725 million and has produced films for HBO and Netflix.
And he even starred in the 2021 film Space Jam: A New Legacy.
It’s no surprise that, in 2022, Forbes announced that the 38-year-old superstar became the first active NBA player to make the billionaires list.
From his dominant play on court to his activism off the court, LeBron’s impact on basketball and popular culture will be felt for generations to come.