LeBron James scored his 35,000th career point on Feb. 18
On Feb. 18, LeBron James became the third player ever to reach 35,000 points in the National Basketball Association (NBA), joining Karl Malone and fellow Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. James reached the milestone in a 109-98 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
“For me to be linked with some of the greatest to have played this game is an honour,” James told reporters after the game.
Joining the league as a teenager in the 2003–04 season, James took the NBA by storm with his superb athleticism. Nearly two decades later, he continues to dominate the sport by consistently adding to his already elite game. The Lakers, led by James, are the third seed in the Western conference, trailing only their California rival Los Angeles Clippers and the rising Utah Jazz.
Over the course of his career, The Lakers’ superstar has epitomized longevity. This season, James has yet to miss a game, logging 1148 minutes in his 33 games played. At 36-years-old, he was selected by fans, current players, and media analysts to start in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game. James’ 17 All-Star selections only trail Kobe Bryant (18) and Abdul-Jabbar (19) for the most in the NBA’s history.
Since entering the league, James has charted 49,699 total regular season minutes to go along with his 10,811 minutes in the playoffs, the latter of which roughly equates to three additional full seasons played.
Despite having an illustrious career that has thus far not been jeopardized by injury, history has shown that Father Time is undefeated when it comes to sports.
In the 2012–13 NBA season, a 34-year-old Bryant led his injury-ravaged and floundering Lakers squad to a winning season, showing no signs of his old age before his body suddenly broke down on him when he tore his Achilles tendon.
Eight years later, the Lakers find themselves in a similar situation with James. And yet, the generational superstar has pushed back on the notion of resting while he is healthy and available to play.
“I’m resting now, sitting here talking to you guys,” James said during his postgame Zoom conference with reporters. “I’m resting when I get in my car and head home. I’m resting when I get home. I’m going to rest tomorrow.”
The Lakers have lost four straight games and five of their previous six since Anthony Davis’ lower-leg injury. Since James’ arrival in Los Angeles in the 2018 offseason, the team has struggled in producing quality offence when he sits, including when Davis is in the starting lineup and healthy. With Davis expected to be out at least until the All-Star break, the team needs their leader in James to overcome this rough stretch in the season.
The greatest player of all-time is a heavily debated subject among basketball fans. While it has no definitive conclusion, it commonly narrows down to James, Abdul-Jabbar, and Michael Jordan.
As it currently stands, James has won four NBA championships to go along with four Finals MVP awards and four regular-season MVP awards. He also ranks remarkably in almost every statistical category in the sport.
Perhaps most notably, by riding out seemingly inconsequential regular season games, James inches his way closer to surpassing Abdul-Jabbar’s career scoring record set at 38,387 total points. James is currently 3,101 points shy of the record that was once deemed unbreakable and has expressed a desire to sit atop the list when his career is all said and done.
On his pursuit of a fifth championship ring, James has chosen to lead his teammates by example amid a rough patch in the season, while paving his unique path towards individual greatness along the way.
Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion