As he prepares for his 19th season in the NBA, LeBron James is surely focused on just one thing: leading the Los Angeles Lakers to their second title in three seasons, and claiming his fifth ring overall. Adding another championship to his resume would only further his case as the best player of all time, and after a disappointing first-round exit last season, James will have more motivation than usual.
But while they're often regarded as the most important accomplishment, titles aren't the only thing that counts in the historical record. Individual statistical accomplishments matter as well, and perhaps none more so than the all-time scoring record. That is currently held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but LeBron is closing in fast and could pass it as soon as the 2022-23 season.
CBS Sports HQ Newsletter
Your Ultimate Guide to Every Day in Sports
We bring sports news that matters to your inbox, to help you stay informed and get a winning edge.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
In a recent interview with veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein, Abdul-Jabbar reflected on his record and said that he's "excited" to see LeBron break it.
LeBron James is right around 3,000 points behind you for the NBA's all-time scoring lead. If he can put a couple more injury-free seasons together, he has a real opportunity to pass you. How would you feel about that?
Kareem: I'm excited to see it happen. I don't see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that's never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It's a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.
As it stands, Abdul-Jabbar has 38,387 career points, while LeBron is at 35,367, or 3,020 points behind the all-time record. Only two players -- Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan -- have ever scored that many points in a single season, and the most points LeBron has ever scored in a season was 2,478 in 2005-06 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That means passing Abdul-Jabbar is out of the question this season, especially at this stage of his career. LeBron has only even passed the 2,000-point mark in a season once since he left the Miami Heat in 2014. Barring any sort of long-term injuries, however, LeBron is a good bet to become the all-time leading scorer at some point in the next few years.
Even if you take a conservative view on how much he'll play and give LeBron 125 games over the next two seasons, he would have to average 24.2 points in those contests. He hasn't put up less than 25 points per game in a season since he was a rookie. And if he plays more than two more seasons, passing Abdul-Jabbar is almost a guarantee.