LeBron James, nine season into his NBA career, is 47th on the All-Time scoring list with 19045 points. He needs that same amount and then some to make it to the top of the pile, beating Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38387, to become the league’s all-time leading scorer.
Hard? Yes. Impossible? Possibly. Let’s look at the current situation. Up until now, James has played in 689 regular season games in his NBA career, missing only 32 through his first nine seasons in the league, 3.6 per year. Never an actual serious injury, but when you’ve got this kind of talent, you don’t take chances when you don’t have to. He’s never missed more than 7 games in a season, and often gets to rest a game or two before the playoffs begin.
Average? Averaging 27.6 points per game, third all-time (behind Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain). To get to Kareem’s record within the next nine seasons, taking him into his 37th year on planet earth, James will have to average more than 26 points per game for the next nine seasons while not missing a single game and hoping there’s no lockout to get past Jabbar by that time. Sounds more difficult by the moment. Impossible? Never, because as shocking as it may sound, there’s a good chance we still haven’t seen the best of him, still at his physical peak and a growing skill set and mental abilities.
But James is changing his game. He can score 30-35 easily each night, but that’s not necessarily what’s best for his team, and he has been always a pass first kind of guy. We saw some kind of changes this last postseason, but it’s impossible to play with that kind of intensity each night for nearly a decade and not fading out at some point. If I’d have to put my money on it, than I say it doesn’t happen. Forwards nearing their 40’s don’t usually score in bulk, and nine years is a very long time.
Who knows, maybe Kobe Bryant, with a much bigger appetite for ego-pleasing records will beat him to it. Bryant is currently fifth on the all-time scoring list with 29484 points. He’s 8903 behind Kareem. Bryant is declining, but he made up for it by taking much more shots last season. Who knows how he’ll make up for it this year. At his current pace (25.4 points per game), Bryant will need nearly five seasons to reach that mark. Not impossible, but hard to believe it’ll actually happen, especially with the talks of him hanging up his sneakers when his contract is up in 2014.