Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer on Tuesday, setting the new mark with a fadeaway jumpshot late in the third quarter of a home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
‘King James’, who entered the game needing 36 points to break Abdul-Jabbar’s record of 38,387, sent the sold-out crowd into a frenzy when the ball splashed through the net, raising his arms in triumph as his team mates embraced him.
Lakers great Abdul-Jabbar, who took the title from Wilt Chamberlain with his signature skyhook on April 5, 1984, sat courtside at Tuesday’s game and stood to applaud James after the record was broken.
Play was stopped to recognize the achievement and to let James address the crowd.
“I just want to say thank you to the Laker faithful, you guys are one of a kind,” James said.
“To be able to be in the presence of such a legend as Kareem is unbelievable, it’s very humbling. Please give a standing ovation to ‘The Captain.'”
Tributes from his family, U.S. President Joe Biden and students from his “I Promise School” were played inside the arena, while NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told Reuters it was an “historic moment”.
“These types of significant milestones capture the attention of not only basketball fans but broader society,” Silver said.
“LeBron’s pursuit of the scoring record is no exception and billions of people will become aware of this milestone.”
All season long it has been a question of when, not if, James would topple the record. Some thought it may come during Thursday’s home game against Milwaukee but James had other ideas.
Arriving at the arena in a jet black suit, black shirt and dark sunglasses, James looked like he was going to a funeral.
Hours later, he buried Abdul-Jabbar’s record.