Longtime reservist John Salley, who won and lost a title against the Showtime-era Lakers as a member of the Detroit Pistons and then won again as a member of the 2000 Shaqobe-era Lakers, offered a hot version of current Laker forward LeBron James.
Now in his 20th NBA season, the 18-time All-Star is making a pretty darn inevitable march to overtake former Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leader in regular-season points scored. Keep in mind that James already holds the record for all-time actual NBA points scored, having scored more points in the regular season and postseason combined than his closest competitor, who, as you probably guessed, was Abdul- is jabbar.
Including his performance in his nine healthy games this year, James has a total of 37,281 regular season points as of this writing. The Chosen One is now just 1,107 points away from breaking Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 regular season mark.
LBJ averages 24.3 points per night at 44.7% shooting. In his first four years as a Laker, he missed an average of 21 games per season because of aging. Assuming this trend continues and his point average stays where it is, James would have amassed 1,264 points (rounded up) by the end of the 2022-23 regular season. Here, too, an expected 21 games lost through injury are taken into account.
In a new interview with Shannon Sharpe on his YouTube series Club Shay Shay, Salley went where others have jagged and somehow decided The Chosen wasn’t going to catch one cap — not just this season, but ever. As Sharpe notes, Abdul-Jabbar has held the record since 1984, when he broke the previous all-time regular-season points record held by another Laker, Wilt Chamberlain (31,419, still good for seventh-best all-time).
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“I think they won’t let him get it…You’re going to be really angry,” Salley said. “Think about it … Phil Jackson said something to me, I was in my 50s, and then I got it — I said, ‘Phil, Kobe was 81, he was about to be 104’ … He says: ‘ Well, some records have to stand.”
That’s just a crazy, practically conspiratorial proclamation.
Who is the “she” that Salley is referring to? The NBA? And how exactly will they prevent James from scoring another 1,106 points over the rest of his career? James is still playing at the All-Star level at the moment, and while he’s shown signs of slowing down, the finish line doesn’t seem to be in sight.
While it’s true that James seems to have taken a step back this season, that’s not the case the bad a step backwards. Yes, his batting average has slipped, although that could be partly due to the impact of a sore left foot that seems to have plagued him all year. He has also signed with LA until at least 2024 with a player option in 2024-25. So he has at least two more seasons beyond this one to top Abdul-Jabbar’s total should he be ambushed by a longer-term injury this year and not be able to play enough games to get there.
Short of an actual hiatus in NBA play, James claims that record. And don’t forget, despite all the pomp and circumstance that surrounded this (admittedly insane) act, James has in fact already broken the more important goalscoring record.