March 02, 2024

LeBron James returns to Los Angeles with history in his grasp

LeBron James returns to Los Angeles with history in his grasp
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) – LeBron James returns to Los Angeles on the verge of becoming the NBA's all-time leading scorer after wrapping up a five-game road trip in New Orleans on Sunday.

"King James" now needs just 36 points to pass fellow Los Angeles Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record 38,387 career points after contributing 27 points in their 131-126 loss to the Pelicans.

James, 38, has shown no sign of slowing down in his 20th season, where he is averaging more than 30 points per game and made his 19th All-Star Game.

He will have two opportunities to capture what he has called "one of the greatest records in sports" on his home floor next week when the Lakers host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday and the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.

Ticket prices for those games have predictably skyrocketed and Hollywood's biggest stars are expected to be seated courtside.

Fans everywhere are eagerly anticipating the milestone and the league has said that any game where he has a reasonable chance of breaking the record will be broadcast nationally.

At this point the only question is what kind of shot he will take to seize the a title.

James has been seen practicing the skyhook, a shot perfected by Abdul-Jabbar, in warmups before recent games, so an homage to the Hall of Famer may be in the works.

But a dunk, mid-range jumper or three-pointer or even free throw will lead to a pause in the contest as an epic celebration breaks out at Crypto.com Arena.

Breaking the nearly four-decade-old record that Abdul-Jabbar seized from Wilt Chamberlain on April 5, 1984 will further four-time champion James' case for being recognized as the greatest of all time.

The Akron, Ohio native had an immediate impact on the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers organization when he was selected first overall as a teenager amid a media frenzy in the 2003 NBA Draft.

Since then he has more than exceeded the high expectations put on his broad shoulders and steadily risen up the scoring list.

For two decades, James has ruled the NBA, winning four titles with three different franchises, being selected to a record-tying 19 All-Star Games last month, and being a perennial MVP candidate.