LeBron James Tuesday evening became the NBA’s career scoring leader when he sank a 14-foot turnaround fadeaway shot with 10.9 seconds left in the third quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 133-130 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Crypto.com Arena.
The basket increased James’ career total to 38,388 points in 1,410 games over 20 seasons. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who held the record since 1984, scored 38,387 points in 1,560 games over 20 seasons.
The game was stopped after James set the record, with Abdul-Jabbar and James embracing at midcourt, with Abdul-Jabbar handing James a basketball to symbolize the passing of the torch. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver briefly spoke in praise of James.
Mayor Karen Bass ordered Los Angeles City Hall to be lit in the Lakers’ colors of purple and gold after James set the record.
“What you’ve done — the breaking of one of the most monumental records in sports — will be heard throughout our city and around the world,” Bass said in a video. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge an LA Legend — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — who held this record for decades. I am so glad to see that though the record holder is changing hands, it remains in our city of champions.
“So LeBron, on behalf of the people of Los Angeles, I want to congratulate you. We are so proud of your journey thus far, and all that you will continue to do in pursuit of greatness — both on and off the court. ”
James entered the game needing 36 points to set the record. He finished with a game-high 38 points, making 13 of 20 shots and eight of 10 free throws, bringing his career total to 38,340 points. It was the eighth time in his 44 games this season he scored 36 or more points, including seven times in his 17 games since Dec. 30, his 38th birthday.
James took two shots after setting the record. He spent the first three minutes, 20 seconds of the fourth quarter on the bench, missed a 3-point shot with 7:26 left and made a driving layup with 1:51 remaining in front of a sellout crowd announced at 18,997.
The Lakers (25-30) never led in the second half. They trailed 97-84 with 3:46 left in the third quarter, rallied to tie the score, 106-106 with 9:34 left in the fourth quarter, then allowed the next 12 points.
The Lakers outscored the Thunder, 14-4, over the final 1:51 to make the game close, with Patrick Beverley scoring their final points on a 3-point basket with 1.3 seconds remaining.