VIDEO: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar On LeBron James Possibly Surpassing His Scoring Record
LeBron James never had the scorer-type mentality. Even though he has the skills and physical attributes to light up the scoreboard, getting his teammates involved was always given high premium.
Despite gravitating less to dominating the game by scoring in bunches, James still couldn’t help but excel in that category. With a total of 26,833 points over 13 years, he stands at 11th in the NBA’s all-time scoring list, just a notch below Hakeem Olajuwon, and 11,554 points behind the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who has held the top spot for as long as most people can remember.
Can James become number one when it’s all said and done? The legendary center was in attendance during Game 2 of the Cavs’ East Finals matchup with the Raptors, and was asked about the matter.
"LeBron is a total class guy."
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) May 20, 2016
Let’s do some number crunching. But note that this is only hypothetical and very much subjective.
It took Kareem 20 years to score 38,387 career points. Assuming that LeBron James plays seven more years and granted that in the next three seasons, James’ play will see minimal decline, he should be able to score more or less 1,800 points yearly. By his 16th season, his total should be close to 32,200; that’s Michael Jordan territory.
Three years from now, if a 34-year old James could still average 23 points and play more or less 70 games per season, while maintaining that pace for the next couple of years until he’s 36 years old, his total should be somewhere around 35,420. By then, he would be a notch above Kobe Bryant, with Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players ahead.
A 36-year old James, would then need 2,968 points to catapult past Kareem. Which means, he must average at least 20 points in three more seasons, playing at least 70 games each, to claim the top spot. Can the 37,38, and 39-year old versions of him accomplish that pace? Highly doubtful.
However, it is mathematically possible. A couple of more explosive seasons and a shift in mentality would greatly help this cause, but only if LeBron James pleases.