Good morning to everyone but especially to...
THE NBA'S ALL-TIME LEADING SCORER, LeBRON JAMES
A catch at the elbow, a series of pivots, three left-handed dribbles, a step back to create just enough space, and... swish.
LeBron James is the NBA's new all-time scoring leader. He passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- who was sitting court-side -- late in the third quarter of the Lakers' loss to the Thunder. It gave James 36 points for the night and 38,388 for his regular-season career. You can see the bucket here.
The ensuing celebration was one fit for The King.
- Abdul-Jabbar -- who had held the record since 1984 -- gave James a ball to symbolize the passing of the torch.
- James' family joined him on the court as a tribute video played.
- Commissioner Adam Silver and James both addressed the star-studded crowd. Here's how the world reacted to the moment.
There was anticipation in the air all night, and James -- as has been the case so often throughout his incredible career -- lived up to it. He had 20 points by halftime and was promising his son, Bronny, that he'd get there. Less than a quarter later, he delivered.
February 8, 2023
Our Brad Botkin took a look at the 25 most noteworthy numbers on James' path to the top. Here are two that stick out to me:
- Botkin: "LeBron has scored at least 10 points in 1,139 straight games, by far the longest streak in history (Michael Jordan is second at 866)... LeBron is the youngest player in history to reach every 1,000-point milestone (1K, 2K, 3K .... 38K)"
Botkin, in a separate piece, explained why he thinks James is now officially the greatest player the sport has ever seen. The King's longevity -- as our Doug Clawson explored here -- is unmatched, even by Abdul-Jabbar. Heck, we have to explore other sports for an apt comparison.
Here's the new all-time scoring leaderboard:
- 1. LeBron James: 38.390
- 2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 38,387
- 3. Karl Malone: 36,928
- 4. Kobe Bryant: 33,643
- 5. Michael Jordan: 32,292
To put things in perspective, the next-leading scorer currently on a roster is Kevin Durant at... 26,684 -- nearly 12,000 behind James. What's even more remarkable is James is not nearly done yet, and perhaps he donned the headband (a symbol of his earlier years) to remind us. James is up to 30.2 points per game this season, on pace to be the third-highest of his career.
It was a truly unforgettable moment in a career that's been full of them. I always try to stress that we shouldn't take James for granted. Sure, we've pretty much known he was going to overtake Abdul-Jabbar for months, if not years. But to see it happen in front of the previous record-holder and see what it meant to James himself was very special.
Here's to hoping for a few more historic moments. As the nearly 39-year wait for a new scoring leader proved, they don't come around that often.
- Derek Carr got permission to visit the Saints. Here are his best landing spots.
- The 49ers hired Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator.
- The Titans promoted Tim Kelly to offensive coordinator.
Not so honorable mentions
- Kyle Busch was arrested in Mexico for handgun possession.
Super Bowl preview: Ranking starters, key under-the-radar moves for both teams 🏈
Don't think for a moment that we forgot about the Super Bowl. Yes, the weekend off between the championship games and the Super Bowl creates a bit of a lull, but our NFL team has written a ton of stuff, and there's plenty more coming.
One of my favorites so far has been our Pete Prisco ranking every starter, from 1-44. Here's the top six:
- 1. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
- 2. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce
- 3. Chiefs DT Chris Jones
- 4. Eagles C Jason Kelce
- 5. Eagles OT Lane Johnson
- 6. Eagles QB Jalen Hurts
While much has been made of the Mahomes-Hurts battle, those two won't actually face off on the field. You know who will, time and time again? Chris Jones and Jason Kelce -- the No. 3 and No. 4 players, respectively.
The Chiefs have Pete's top three starters, but the teams split the top 10, and the Eagles actually had 10 of the top 15.
Of course, teams are much more than their 22 starters, and the Eagles' loaded top-to-bottom roster is proof of that. Their under-the-radar acquisitions are a testament to that, writes our Jeff Kerr.
- Kerr: "Nov. 17: Signed Ndamukong Suh -- The individual stats don't describe Suh's impact on the defense, as Philadelphia has allowed just 114.4 rushing yards per game in the 10 games Suh has been on the roster (including postseason). ... Prior to Suh's arrival, the Eagles allowed 124.8 rush yards per game and had just 29 sacks. ... Nov. 16: Signed Linval Joseph."
When you have those two defensive linemen -- who have combined for seven Pro Bowls and two Super Bowls -- playing as back-ups, you know you're really good. But the Chiefs have made plenty of savvy moves as well, notes Jared Dubin.
NBA Trade Deadline: Is Dame Time up in Portland? 🏀
Since Damian Lillard, 32, entered the NBA in 2012, only James Harden and LeBron James have scored more points. Only Stephen Curry and Harden have made more 3-pointers.
Those are some very positive facts about Lillard. Here are some that are tougher to swallow:
- The Trail Blazers haven't won a playoff series since 2018-19.
- After a surprising 9-3 start to this season, Portland is 17-25 since and currently wouldn't even make the play-in tournament.
- Since Lillard's arrival, the Trail Blazers have tried three different full-time head coaches and at least that many roster constructions: the inside-outside duo of LaMarcus Aldridge and Lillard, the backcourt duo of Lillard and C.J. McCollum and, now, Lillard with backcourt mate Anfernee Simons and bigger wings such as Jerami Grant, Josh Hart and Shaedon Sharpe.
Lillard's loyalty to Portland is admirable, as is Portland's loyalty to Lillard. There's no questioning that. But it is worth questioning whether it's time for them to consider going their separate ways. Here's what our Sam Quinn has to say:
- Quinn: "Behind Door No. 1 we have the definition of insanity. The Blazers can keep trying to put a winner around Lillard.
... Behind Door No. 2, we have the unpopular unknown. ... Move Lillard now and the Blazers could still get a haul for him to pair with those youngsters. ... Doing so would mean ignoring the very publicly expressed wishes of a franchise icon. No executive wants to be remembered as the man who traded the best player in franchise history. But NBA history favors teams that move stars proactively."
The more I think about it, the more I like Sam's point. The Lillard era has delivered some incredible highs, often courtesy of Lillard. But they don't seem particularly close to even contending with him right now.
As the trade deadline is 24 hours away, Lillard isn't the only name to monitor. Here's more:
- Latest rumors
- Lakers rumors
- Could James Wiseman be on the move?
- The Kings acquired Kessler Edwards from Nets.
Aaron Rodgers is going to contemplate his future on a 'darkness retreat' 🏈
Aaron Rodgers will make a decision on his future soon, but not before -- get this-- a four-day "darkness retreat." Yeah, you read that correctly.
Let me explain:
- Rodgers is going to spend four days and four nights in a house in the pitch-black dark at some point after the Super Bowl, he said on his latest appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show." There's a slot for food and a bathroom as well. And, well, yeah. That's that.
- Rodgers says it will help him come to a "final, final decision" as to whether he wants to continue playing in the NFL.
- He added that the "sensory deprivation isolation" will simulate the drug DMT with the potential for hallucinations.
To each their own, I suppose. At least we now have some sort of timeline. We think.
What we're watching Wednesday 📺
🏀 No. 23 Creighton at Seton Hall, 6:30 p.m. on FS1
🏀 No. 11 Iowa State at West Virginia, 7 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 76ers at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Mavericks at Clippers, 10 p.m. on ESPN