Stratospheric: LeBron James became the leading scorer in NBA history on Tuesday ahead of the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, seizing the most prestigious individual record in American basketball, which he should strive to make unbeatable, as long as he intends, at 38, to last a long time.
His upraised arms were as much of relief as of glory: It was a successful turning shot late in the third quarter against Oklahoma City that suddenly brought the Los Angeles Lakers game to a halt like the breath of some 20,000 fans – including celebrities like Jay-Z, John McEnroe, Magic Johnson and wealthy people who paid up to $ 24,000 a seat – in a molten Crypto.com Arena.
Also, a necessary break, of about twenty minutes, was necessary to celebrate the feat, certainly expected but finally achieved by the 38-year-old superstar, whom tears quickly invaded when his family and loved ones came. share the moment of emotion, immortalized by cameras and mobile phones.
“Thank you to my beautiful wife, my daughter, my two boys, my friends, my mother, all those who have been part of my journey for the past twenty years and more,” reacted James.
He did not fail to thank “the Lakers faithful, unique in (their) kind”. Without forgetting Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who came to pass on the torch in person: “Being in the presence of such a legend means a lot to me. It’s a great lesson in humility, give the captain an ovation, please! “.
– Congratulations from Biden –
The latter had set the bar very, very high -38,387 points- on the evening of April 5, 1989. The inventor of the “sky hook”, this signature rolled arm which did so much damage to opposing defenses, had set his record after of 1,560 regular season matches. James will have needed 1.410.
“This record that stood for almost 40 years… many people thought it would never be broken. LeBron, you are the leading scorer in NBA history. Congratulations!”, proclaimed the boss of the Adam Silver League.
The feat is indeed immense, because this throne of top scorer has only changed owners once since 1966, when Wilt Chamberlain took his place there.
However, there were unrepentant scorers who have succeeded since. Without anyone being able to get close to “KAJ”, the Karl Malone (3rd, 36,928 pts), Kobe Bryant (4th, 33,643 pts), Michael Jordan (5th, 32,292) or even Dirk Nowitzki (6th, 31,560).
Until the end of the match, finally lost by the Lakers, the messages were chained on the giant screens, from the American president Joe Biden saluting his performance or even from the children of the school he founded in Akron, his city native.
James, very moved during the ceremony, still could not believe after the match to be at the top of the leading scorers. “It’s surreal because I never made it a goal, I just want to have longevity, to be able to be the best possible every night,” he reacted on TNT.
– “Always motivated” –
We are still far from knowing how high the “King” will take his record, as he still has many good years ahead of him. To the point of maintaining a less and less secret dream, that of playing with his eldest son Bronny, who will be able to appear in the Draft in 2024.
For “LBJ”, who has already faced ten players and their father many years earlier, the symbolic bar of 40,000 points is very much within reach, because he is now only about fifty. of matches. Which should happen next season.
The burning question remains: does this immense accomplishment make LeBron James the “GOAT” – the best player of all time – at the expense of Michael Jordan? Nothing is less certain, if only because the latter won the six finals he played with the Bulls, while the former won “only” four out of ten.
But his undiminished energy and desire make him push the limits and could, who knows, tip the scales in his favor. “I know I can play for a few more years. I’m still motivated to try to win titles, because I feel like I can still do it. That’s my state of mind,” he said.