LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are two of the greatest basketball players to ever live. This has to be said up front, because too often in these historic conversations, the way we go about "proving" the superiority of one all-timer is by disparaging the other. 

We're not going to do that here. No ridiculous talk about LeBron being 3-5 in Finals appearances or Kobe being an "inefficient" player by some laughable new-age measurements that only serve to invalidate themselves by reaching such conclusions. 

Kobe was a monster. The closest thing we've ever seen, and probably ever will see, to Michael Jordan. A bloodthirsty scorer and a maniacal, rip-your-figurative-throat-out competitor. LeBron, in the words of Clippers coach Doc Rivers, is "closer to Magic [Johnson] than anyone else has been" -- a stylistic nod to James' traditionally pass-first approach as an effective 6-foot-8 point guard. 

Which makes it all the more impressive that LeBron passed Kobe for third place on the all-time scoring list on Wednesday night, and it couldn't have happened in more poetic fashion: with LeBron wearing a Lakers uniform, playing in Kobe's hometown of Philadelphia while wearing specially designed shoes honoring Bryant's 33,643 career points. 

James came into Saturday night's game vs. the Sixers needing 18 points to pass Bryant's number. Early in the third quarter, here's the bucket that did it. 

LeBron wound up with 29 points on Saturday -- the Lakers lost to the Sixers 108-91 -- and now sits at 33,645 points for his career. The only two players left for James to conquer on the all-time scoring list are No. 2 Karl Malone (36,928) and No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387). 

To this point, LeBron is averaging 27.1 points per game for his career. If he were to keep that pace up, he would need right about 122 games (roughly two seasons) to pass Malone and 173 games (roughly three seasons) to pass Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time record. 

"By the time LeBron retires, I'm going to assume he's going to basically have every record," Doc Rivers said. "Wilt Chamberlain-like. It's going to be hard to argue with that."

It truly is amazing that LeBron's reached this level of scoring while operating as a more pass-centric player who scores more out of necessity than initial instinct. You can't help but wonder where his career scoring total would be at right now had he approached his career with as a more single-minded bucket-getter. 

By the numbers, here's what it took for LeBron and Kobe to reach the same scoring mark. 










FG Attempts



FT attempts



"The way he's going, I'd be shocked if [LeBron] doesn't end up as the [all-time] leading scorer," a Western Conference scout told CBS Sports. "I mean you never know. He tricks you into forgetting he's, what, in his mid-thirties? Injuries can pop up in a hurry. He takes great care of his body, and you just hope he stays healthy. But it's remarkable the level he's still playing at."