LeBron James hit another career milestone tonight, becoming the first NBA player ever to score 40,000 points. The Lakers star needed just nine points coming into the game against Denver and reached the historic mark with a layup early in the second quarter (video link from Dave McMenamin of ESPN).
The game stopped briefly, and the Lakers honored James with a video tribute, tweets Johan Buha of The Athletic.
After scoring 31 points on Thursday, James talked to Buha about what it means to him to reach a scoring figure that was once thought to be impossible.
“To be able to accomplish things in this league, with the greatest players to ever play in this league, the NBA, this has been a dream of mine and to hit feats and have milestones throughout my career, they all mean something to me. Absolutely,” James said. “Obviously, there’s a pecking order of which ones are higher than others, but absolutely. I would be lying to you if I said it doesn’t mean anything. Because it absolutely does.”
James became the league’s leading scorer on February 7 of last year when he passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career total of 38,387 points, with the Lakers’ legendary center on hand to witness the achievement. James remains an elite scorer even after turning 39 in December. He’s averaging 25.3 PPG in 53 games this season and hasn’t been below 25.0 PPG since his rookie year.
James told Buha that he hasn’t considered how high his point total might climb before he retires.
“I never thought about getting the scoring record,” he said. “It just happened organically. I played the game the right way and went out and played the game and let the game come to me and the scoring record happened organically for me. It was never a goal of mine when I came into the league, like I wanted to be the all-time leading scorer. But I’m still playing. And I can still score the ball so it’s going to go up until I’m done playing.”