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LeBron James becomes first NBA player to score 40,000 points

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LOS ANGELES — LeBron James started his own scoring club Saturday, becoming the first player in NBA history to score 40,000 points.

Los Angeles Lakers forward, who surpassed Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become league’s all-time leading scorer in 2023, entered Saturday’s 124-114 loss to the Denver Nuggets at Crypto.com Arena with nine points needed to reach the milestone. James crossed the line early in the second quarter with a left-handed layup past Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.

“No one has ever done it,” James said Thursday. “For me to be in this position at this point in my career, I think it’s pretty cool. Is this at the top of things I’ve done in my career? No. Does that mean anything? Of course. Absolutely. Why not ? … Accomplishing feats and reaching milestones throughout my career, they all matter to me.

Large countdown graphics displaying James’ career point total and his progress toward 40,000 points hung in the upper bowl of the arena. James made a transition layup and a three-pointer in the first quarter, before making a driving layup early in the second quarter to set the stage for the scoring shot.

After James reached 40,000 points, he received numerous ovations from the Los Angeles crowd, and the Lakers announced his feat during a subsequent timeout. James, who finished with 26 points, four rebounds and nine assists to bring his career scoring total to 40,017 points, acknowledged the crowd by holding the ball above his head before a tribute video broadcast on the jumbotron.

“I never think about a milestone when I’m fighting,” James said. “When that happens, we obviously recognize it. Much respect and much loyalty to the Lakers fans for showing me that love during the timeout.

James, 39, has a career scoring average of 27.1 points and reached 40,000 points in his 1,475th regular season game. A sign of his remarkable consistency, the 21-year-old veteran scored his first 10,000 points in the same number of games – 368 – when he was expected to go from 30,000 points to 40,000.

The Lakers held a 66-58 halftime lead over the defending NBA champions, but Nuggets stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray took over down the stretch. Jokic had 35 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in Denver’s eighth straight win over Los Angeles, a stretch that includes a sweep of the 2023 Western Conference Finals.

James said the scoring milestone was “bittersweet” because it was a defeat.

“It’s a heck of an accomplishment,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “I wish we could have gotten the win to top it off. I take my hat off to him. An incredible race that continues today. Everyone in our program and our organization is extremely excited and happy for him.

James, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft, scored 25 points in his debut on October 29, 2003 at age 18 before becoming the youngest player to reach 10,000 points (February 27, 2008 ), 20,000 points (January 2008). January 16, 2013) and 30,000 points (January 23, 2018). The four-time MVP surpassed Abdul-Jabbar’s long-standing record of 38,387 points on February 7, 2023.

NBA all-time records include regular season games only. James is also the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring leader with 8,023 points, holding a healthy lead over No. 2 Michael Jordan (5,987).

The 20-time All-Star, who also ranks fourth all-time in assists and eighth in steals, said he “played the game the right way” and set the team’s “goal scoring record.” organically”, rather than intentionally trying to overthrow Abdul-Jabbar.

James left open the possibility that his score would one day be broken. He noted that Oscar Robertson’s record of 181 career triple-doubles was once considered untouchable, but Russell Westbrook has surpassed that mark while Jokic and Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks are also in pursuit.

“We have a lot of good guys in the league that can score the ball and if they can stay healthy and play long, they can outshine him,” James said. “Records are always made to be broken. You can never say never about a record. …For years it was said that Kareem’s record would never be broken and I managed to eclipse it.”

Despite the NBA’s ongoing offensive boom, there is no imminent threat to James’ scoring supremacy. Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant ranks ninth on the all-time scoring list with 28,372 points and second among active players. However, Durant is 35 years old and has lost most or all of his three seasons due to serious injuries. There are no other active players among the NBA’s top 20 all-time scorers.

James, who is under contract through the 2024-25 season, could sign a multi-year contract extension this summer. In other words, its balance sheet remains a moving target.

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