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Entering Wednesday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, James needed 39 points to claim the fifth spot from Chamberlain. He achieved the feat with a free throw in the fourth quarter.
The next step up the scoring chart holds a significant symbolic importance. Assuming he reaches 32,293 career points, James will overtake Michael Jordan for fourth place.
NBA All-Time Scoring List Top Five
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387)
2. Karl Malone (36,928)
3. Kobe Bryant (33,643)
4. Michael Jordan (32,292)
5. LeBron James (31,420)
Even at 33, James continues to play at a high level. He entered Wednesday averaging 26.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists in his first season with the Lakers. Just as impressive, James has welcomed the uptempo style head coach Luke Walton wanted to implement. Los Angeles ranks third in pace, according to NBA.com.
Chamberlain is the second legendary name James leapfrogged this season. Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki was in sixth place on the scoring list before LeBron’s 35-point effort in a 110-106 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 27.
Nowitzki commented on how James may ultimately be able to wrest the top spot from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“If he stays healthy, the way he’s looking and moving, he has a chance at Kareem,” Nowitzki said, per ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon. “His numbers have been unbelievable. He doesn’t seem to slow down. The stuff he was doing last year in year 15 was incredible. If he keeps this up, he can pass Kareem.”
Long before he can set his sights on Abdul-Jabbar, James will first have to topple the greatest player in NBA history. A little over 800 points separate him from Jordan, so it’ll be a little while before James is within striking distance.
Assuming he can maintain a 25-point-per-game pace, James should get there sometime inside the next 40 games, giving him ample time to catch Jordan this season.