LeBron James breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time NBA scoring record is now just a matter of when, not if. And regardless of when it ends up happening, Abdul-Jabbar will be in the building, according to Los Angeles Lakers play-by-play announcer Billy MacDonald.
James finished with 27 points in the Lakers' loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, as the team dropped to 25-29 on the season, a mark that has them in 13th place in the Western Conference, but still only three games out of a top-six spot in the crowded standings.
With that performance, James is now just 36 points away from passing Abdul-Jabbar for first place on the scoring list. The Lakers' next game is on Tuesday at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the record will certainly be within reach that night. James, who is averaging 30 points per game for what would be the third-highest mark of his career, has scored 36 points or more on nine occasions this season. If he really wants to go for it, he could score enough points without too much trouble.
Billy Mac notes during the @SpectrumSN broadcast that Kareem will be in the building when LeBron is paced to break his all-time scoring record, whether this Tuesday or Thursday. AK— Kamenetzky Brothers (@KamBrothers) February 4, 2023
Even if James doesn't go record-hunting against the Thunder, he'll almost certainly score enough points that it will make things a mere formality on Thursday night when the Lakers take on the Milwaukee Bucks. It would be fitting if he passes Abdul-Jabbar in a game against the Hall of Famer's original team.
Despite their respective places in history, and the Lakers connection, James and Abdul-Jabbar are not on the best of terms. Asked about the record chase back in October, James said he had "no relationship" with Abdul-Jabbar. Their 37-year age difference is part of that, but Abdul-Jabbar has also been critical of James in the past, notably saying in April 2022 that James should be "embarrassed" about some of his comments regarding COVID-19. Though Abdul-Jabbar later walked back those comments, they clearly aren't close in any way.
Even so, this will be one of the most important moments in NBA history, and Abdul-Jabbar being in the building to officially pass the torch will make it more meaningful.