In the 2017-2018 NBA season, LeBron James became the 7th member of the NBA’s 30,000-point club. He joined elite company, as only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Dirk Nowitzki, and Wilt Chamberlain have scored as many points. That season LeBron passed Chamberlain and Nowitzki. Then in May of this year, he passed Jordan to move into 4th. With that, LeBron is now within striking distance of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. This season, the four-time MVP will most likely pass Kobe and move into the top 3.
Passing His Airness is a remarkable feat for LeBron. It was an achievement that should’ve been celebrated but wasn’t. The irony was not lost on LA Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke, who opined that LeBron’s “monumental accomplishment “felt like an enormous dud.” Plaschke gave two reasons why that happened. First, LeBron was an outsider, a hired gun to bring the Lakers back to championship contention. As such LeBron’s greatness “is not yet Lakers greatness.” Second, it didn’t help that the Lakers’ season devolved from promising to awful, in part due to LeBron missing several games due to a groin injury.
This season will be different. The Lakers will be championship contenders, and LeBron will be leading the way, as usual. His 32,543 points leave him 1,101 shy of Kobe’s 33,643. If LeBron averages 27 points a game, as he has done throughout his career, he will pass Kobe at around the 45-game mark this season (barring any injuries). By that point, the Purple and Gold will probably have one of the league’s best records. That means their fans will be in the mood to celebrate whatever milestone LeBron nets yet again.
And there will be more achievements for The King. LeBron has made a career of making milestones. He even owns what Sportskeeda describes as unbreakable records. These include making 4 NBA finals for two teams and several youngest-to-score-x-amount-of points milestones. Naturally LeBron has turned that on-court greatness into financial gain. LeBron is second in Ladbrokes’ list of the highest earning sports stars, with annual earnings upwards of $75 million (salary + endorsements). Even so, the three-time champion isn’t resting on his laurels. Former teammate Richard Jefferson even believes LeBron will be better than ever this season. He will be out to prove doubters wrong, and will have plenty of help from Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma.
“I think he understands the disrespect…” Jefferson said. “But I think really and truly, he’s more focused on proving to people that basketball is the most important thing to him. And the only way to do that is to go and destroy as many people as possible.”
If LeBron proves Jefferson correct, The King will overtake Kobe sooner than expected. Should LeBron stay at the top of his game for a couple more years, chances are he’ll ultimately pass both Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. For now, though, Kobe is next in line.