LeBron has become the all-time scoring king in NBA regular season history. He’s held the record for combined playoff and regular season points for a while now, but Kareem’s 38,387 number is the one that is really the gold standard.
It’s crazy that this moment has already arrived. I feel like it was yesterday I was watching him announce his arrival to the NBA in that amazing game against Detroit in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals.
I remember looking at the all-time scoring list a decade or so ago and thinking to myself, “LeBron has an outside chance at breaking Kareem’s record, but damn it’s going to be tough.”
He’s now going to shatter it. He’ll be well over 40,000 points when he retries.
It’s just an incredible accomplishment that many thought would never happen. And for him to playing at this high a level when he did it, it’s just unprecedented. He needed 36 points to get the record and had it in the bag before the third quarter was over.
Kareem became the NBA’s all time scoring leader in April of 1984, when he passed Wilt Chamberlain, who had 31,419 points.
Kareem held the all-time scoring record for longer than LeBron has been alive. The record stood for nearly 39 years. LeBron’s record may stand for longer.
Just a reminder, do not pay any attention to the idiots who will try to downplay and discredit this.
You’re going to hear a lot of nonsense.
“It’s just a longevity feat.” So anybody can average 27 a game for 20 years, then?
“Scoring is so much easier in today’s NBA.” It was even higher when Kareem played. LeBron over his career has played at a slower pace of play on average than Kareem did when he played.
LeBron is now the #1 scorer in league history and #4 in assists. Nobody in the top 10 assists list is even close to being on his level in points, and nobody on the all time scoring top 10 list is even close to LeBron in assists. The man is truly 1 of 1. Nobody is on his level.
Most complete basketball player ever, most consistent basketball player ever, greatest basketball player ever.
I’m long past done comparing LeBron to MJ.
We need to be asking how MJ compares to LeBron. Because he doesn’t. No one does.
People want to say “Well LeBron isn’t really a scorer.” They think this because he doesn’t take a ton of midrange jumpers like MJ and Kobe did. People have been conditioned to think that you have to be a carbon copy of Michael Jordan in order to be considered the GOAT, or a great scorer. They’ve seen to many slow motion highlights of Jordan hitting midrange shots they think that’s how the GOAT has to “look.” The idea that you can do it another way never occurs to them.
LeBron can obviously shoot the midrange jumper. It’s how he broke the scoring record, it’s how he put the dagger in Game 7 of the 2013 Finals against the Spurs–his midrange game is incredible.
But he doesn’t shoot it midrange often because he doesn’t have to. Why would he shoot midrange jumpers when he’s the greatest rim finisher in league history? If you can get to the bucket at will, why would you settle for a midrange jumper, which is the most inefficient shot you can take? It’s worth the same amount of points as a driving layup, but harder to hit. It’s worth one fewer point than a 3 but similar in difficulty.
LeBron doesn’t have to prove a thing. He is not chasing anybody. He hasn’t been for a while now. Everyone else is chasing him.
“Hurrr durr but MJ has 6 rings!” I don’t care how many fake ass rings he won in a watered down league against UPS drivers who weren’t allowed to play zone defense against him.
There’s a statue outside the United Center in Chicago of Michael Jordan. On the base of the statue it is inscribed “The best there ever was, the best there ever will be.” Know when that statue was built? 1994.
Jordan had 3 rings at the time and they were calling him the best there ever was and the best there ever will be. Magic had 5, Kareem had 6, Russell had 11, Bird had 3—and yet they’d seen enough to say Michael was the best ever.
I don’t want to hear this “LeBron can’t be better than MJ because he doesn’t have as many rings!” They crowned MJ when he had 3 rings. They didn’t wait til he’d won 3 more playing against pathetic competition.
It isn’t about rings. Rings are a team accomplishment, and often due to luck and other external factors.
It’s about who is the better basketball player. Who is better at playing the game of basketball? And there is nobody on LeBron James level.
He is bigger, faster, stronger, more athletic, more powerful, a more efficient scorer, a better passer, a better rebounder, a better and more versatile defender, and does more for his team than not only MJ specifically but every other player in league history. There’s nobody that can do what he can. There’s nobody that brings it all to the table. There’s nobody who checks more boxes.
And all the MJ stans know it, deep down. Which is why they have to keep pointing to 2011 as if it invalidates LeBron’s whole career. And they point to unquantifiable, intangible, unfalsifiable nonsense like “killer instinct” as the last bastion. They know there’s no argument that MJ is a better basketball player than LeBron, so they have to resort to, “Well LeBron just doesn’t have that killer instinct like MJ had.”
Yeah, the guy that retired not once, but twice in his prime, citing a loss of desire and mental exhaustion, somehow has more competitive fire and killer instinct than the guy who has played 20 straight years and is still going strong:
He retired in 1999 and said he felt great physically, but said he had lost the desire to play.
People have been fooled, man. They’ve drank the Jordan kool aid for way too long now. MJ is not who they think he was. This man probably wanted to hit the golf course and smoke cigars around a blackjack table.
LeBron is the GOAT. Just accept it.
Obviously a lot of people are still going to be clinging to the ball-hogging, shot-chucking dickhead who punched his teammates in the face and ran from the grind twice in his prime, but the debate is over. It’s been over, but now it’s officially over.
Go make up another holiday to try to stay relevant.
Unfortunately the Lakers got embarrassed and lost a crucially important game. They looked completely lost on defense, and the Thunder were out there looking like the ‘86 Celtics. It felt like OKC shot 75% from three.
I thought Darvin Ham was supposed to be a defensive mastermind? I thought that was his specialty? Doesn’t look like it to me.
And why was AD on the bench when LeBron hit the record breaking shot? What the hell was that? He wasn’t even on the floor? He looked pissed there on the bench. He was the only person in the whole place that wasn’t standing up. It was strange to see.
I think he was bummed Darvin Ham didn’t have him on the floor. I mean that’s a historic moment, and LeBron and AD are boys. I think AD was genuinely crushed that he wasn’t out there for that moment, that he didn’t get to share it with LeBron. That’s a moment AD will never get to relive. It’s already passed. And his memory of it will be on the bench. It’s honestly sad to think about it that he wasn’t out there.
The Lakers look like they have some real problems, man. Not that they didn’t before this game, but to go out there and lose to a team like the Thunder, and just get absolutely cooked all night long on defense? I mean holy shit, man. OKC was swinging the ball around effortlessly, cashing wide open shots nothing but net—the Lakers got embarrassed.
You’d think of all the games the Lakers have this season this was the one they’d find a way to win. Once LeBron broke the record it was still the third quarter so there’s no way it would’ve affected the fourth quarter. I could see if it was the 4th quarter and LeBron still hadn’t gotten it, and his teammates would have been trying to feed him to get him opportunities instead of focusing on the actual game and making sound decisions. But that wasn’t the problem at all. The Lakers ended this game with 130 points.
They were just atrocious on defense. They were completely incapable of stopping the Thunder. It was pathetic, truly. Again, the Thunder looked like the ‘86 Celtics out there despite being a team of 20 year olds.
For the Lakers to lose this game, it feels like it’s over. If they couldn’t muster up the fire to go out and win this game, they’re cooked. They’ve got no shot at anything.
Do LeBron and AD request out in the offseason? I could see it happening.
I’ve been hesitant to criticize Darvin Ham because he’s a rookie, but this man is in over his head. He doesn’t make adjustments. He leaves players like Max Christie and Wenyen Gabriel on the bench. It’s unacceptable.
I don’t care if Rob Pelinka promised certain guys minutes. Darvin Ham needs to say forget that, I’m playing my best guys. March right into Jeanie Buss’ office and say, “I don’t care how many minutes you promised these vet minimum dudes, I’m trying to win games out here. Anyone who doesn’t help the team win isn’t playing.”
The Lakers are just such a horribly dysfunctional team, man. I’ve been saying for a year now that LeBron needs to have Rich Paul call up Pat Riley and figure out a way to get him back to Miami. LeBron can’t be spending the last few years of his career–while he’s still playing at an ELITE level–in this dumpster fire of an organization. LeBron needs to playing for a coach like Spo, and playing on a team built by Pat Riley.
Next l want to get into the Lakers missing out on Kyrie.
Fans are irate that Pelinka didn’t give up what the Nets were asking for, but I think it was a wild goose chase the whole time. I don’t think the Nets were ever going to help out the Lakers.
Joe Tsai reportedly instructed his front office to send Kyrie anywhere but LA, because that’s where Kyrie wanted to go. Tsai wanted to spite Kyrie, and that hurt the Lakers a lot.
So I don’t think the Nets were negotiating with the Lakers in good faith. I think it was a sham the whole time.
I get why Laker fans are pissed the Lakers wouldn’t send out Austin Reaves and Max Christie in the deal. Christie barely even plays. I like him, but if they’re not going to pay him then why not just trade him?
The issue here is I don’t think the Nets were ever going to make the trade with the Lakers. I think it was just the Nets putting out unreasonable offers to show the Lakers they weren’t doing business with them. They sent the Lakers on a wild goose chase, putting out more and more unreasonable and unrealistic trade demands until the Lakers just threw their hands up and realized the Nets were unserious.
I’ve been heavily critical of Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss. I think they’re the most incompetent front office in professional sports. And it’s mainly due to Jeanie–I’m sure Rob is limited by Jeanie in a lot of ways.
But on this one, I think they did the right thing.
I think this might be a blessing in disguise for LA, to be quite honest.
They already have a championship core of LeBron and AD. Those guys are enough to win a Championship. They don’t need Kyrie Irving. They have the guys that can get them there currently on the roster. All they need to do is get a few more key role players, particularly around the perimeter. 3&D wings, and maybe some more rim protection since Thomas Bryant is a good scorer and rebounder, but doesn’t offer much on defense.
The Lakers are not far off. They just need a few roster tweaks and then they’re a real team.
But what is important is that the Lakers get out of this “We Need Three Max Players” mentality.
It doesn’t work anymore. Because shooting is so important in today’s NBA, the price tag for shooters—and especially for 3&D wings who can both shoot and defend the perimeter—has increased significantly.
You simply are not going to be able to build a legit supporting cast around your three stars in today’s NBA. You cannot just sign 12 guys for vet minimum contracts and expect to roll the ball out there and win a Championship. It doesn’t work that way anymore.
You saw after the Lakers traded for Westbrook in 2021, they had to completely revamp their roster. It was LeBron, AD and Russ all making max money (combined salary between the three: $120 million, and the league’s salary cap number for a team was $112 million). Then, because they were already over the cap with just those three players, they had to use one of their exceptions on Kendrick Nunn, who they paid $5 million, and who didn’t play a single game for them last season. They were able to sign Talen Horton-Tucker to a multi year contract paying him $9.5 million a year because they had his Bird rights and were able to go over the cap to pay him. But it also cost them Alex Caruso, who they were unwilling to pay.
Then, because the Lakers were already way over the cap with just those 5 players (LeBron, AD, Russ, Nunn, THT) plus the $5 million they still owed to Luol Deng, they could only sign players to the veteran minimum contract, since you are allowed to do this if you are over the cap. There’s only a few different contracts you can offer a player when you still have roster spots to fill and you are over the cap: the veteran minimum, and the midlevel exception.
The Lakers signed Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, Carmelo Anthony, Wayne Ellington, Avery Bradley, Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore and Malik Monk to veteran minimum contracts. That’s 8 players right there on the vet minimum. Most of them were over 35 years old, and of the 8, 7 are currently not playing in the NBA this season, so that should tell you what the league thought of the Lakers’ role players. Malik Monk was the lone exception. More than half the Lakers’ 2022 roster was guys who aren’t even NBA caliber players anymore.
This is what happens when you go the “Three Star Players” route, or in the Lakers’ case, the “Two Star Players plus one Max Contract Player (Russ)” route. You cannot afford role players.
Luckily the Lakers have a surprisingly great scouting department and were able to acquire Austin Reaves as an undrafted rookie. They also found Wenyen Gabriel and Stanley Johnson bouncing around the waiver wire. So they were able to find some diamonds in the rough with those guys, otherwise last season would have been even uglier than it was, because other than Melo, pretty much none of those old vets they signed last year could actually play. And Melo was still a liability on defense.
For 2023, the Lakers still had the same structural limitations in terms of the salary cap. This year the salary cap is $123.6 million, but their three max contract guys are all making more this year than they were last year. That’s what happens with player contracts: they tend to go up in value over time.
So the Lakers began the season over the cap, with $129.5 million committed to LeBron, AD and Westbrook. They traded for Pat Bev, who makes $13 million, used a midlevel exception contract on Lonnie Walker, who makes about $6.5 million. They gave Damian Jones, who doesn’t play, a 2 year contract for about $2.3 million a year. But you look at some of the remaining guys on their roster: Dennis Schroder, Thomas Bryant, Troy Brown, JTA are all on vet minimum deals. These guys are younger players, and they took less to play for the Lakers and prove themselves for their next contracts, like Malik Monk did last year.
Max Christie, Austin Reaves, Wenyen Gabriel and Rui Hachimura are all under contract with them through normal means (meaning they either drafted them, traded for them or had them signed and under contract before the season).
But because of how limited they were by the salary cap, they had to go guard-heavy with Lonnie, Pat Bev, Dennis and then they already have Russ on the team. This team looks the way it does because of the salary cap constraints. They couldn’t afford starting-level 3&D wing players because those guys command more than a vet minimum salary.
The Lakers need to make a trade here. I don’t think a trade will turn their season around, but at this point it’s just smart roster management. Russell Westbrook is going to walk in the offseason, right? So they should at least get something in return for him if possible. If they have to give up some first round picks just to get rid of him, that changes the calculus a bit, but they gave up so much to acquire Russell Westbrook, won nothing of significance with him, and now they’re going to just let him walk for nothing?
Pure incompetence, man. LeBron and AD both need to get the hell out of there.
What about KD?
I don’t think KD is getting traded. There’s still a few more days before the deadline, of course, and we have no idea what kind of wheeling and dealing is going on behind the scenes, but it seems unlikely that KD will be traded. He may have demanded a trade privately and they were able to keep it under wraps. Just because we haven’t heard anything from Shams or Woj doesn’t mean KD hasn’t requested a trade.
But still, it seems like KD won’t be moved before the deadline.
He obviously would have every right to demand a trade out of there. He went to Brooklyn because of Kyrie, and now Kyrie is in Dallas. So while there would be a lot of people out there who will bash KD for demanding a trade, I think he’s within his rights to do so. His supporting cast now consists of Ben Simmons, who we all recognize is a shell of himself, and then Spencer Dinwiddie, DFS, Nick Claxton and a bunch of nice shooters. The Nets honestly have a lot of great role players, but I just don’t think they have the firepower to make it to the Finals in the East. KD is going to have to average 40 a game in the playoffs for that to happen.
The best KD can do this season is take this team as far as he can, leave it all on the floor, and then see what Brooklyn’s plan is for the offseason in order to bring in another star player so that team can realistically compete for a title.
I don’t think anybody will knock KD if he gets to the second round and loses to the Bucks, or if he even gets to the conference finals and loses there. I think we will all recognize that he fought valiantly and did the best he could with the hand he’s been dealt. Kind of like 2021, when they lost to the Bucks in 7 games in the second round, while Harden was playing on one leg, and Kyrie missed most of the series with an injury.
But if, in the offseason, it doesn’t look like the Nets are going to be able to bring in that second star for KD, then nobody would fault him for asking out of there. He’s going to be 35 at the start of next season and doesn’t have time to be in a situation where his chances of winning a Championship are slim to none.
KD went to Brooklyn to prove to his critics that he could win a Championship without his Golden State Superteam. Obviously that has been a failure, resoundingly. You can say the Nets never really got a chance, because of the injuries in 2021 to his supporting cast, but I think we all kind of agreed back then that he was in another superteam situation with Harden and Kyrie, and I don’t think people would’ve given him the credit he was looking for if he won a Championship that year. It would’ve been more like, “Okay, you just went to another superteam and stacked the deck for yourself there. This changes nothing.”
If he had won a Championship with just Kyrie by his side, then I think that would’ve flipped the narrative, but due to a combination of injuries and Kyrie’s own controversies, they were only able to play a total of 74 regular season games together over three and a half seasons. KD and Kyrie played a grand total of 13 playoff games together: 5 in the first round in 2021 against Boston, and then Kyrie only played in 4 games in the second round series against Milwaukee. Then they got swept by Boston last year. So not even 13 games in the playoffs.
They never really got a chance. Harden asked out of there in under a year, and now Kyrie is outta there as well. You can certainly blame KD for hitching his wagon to not only Kyrie Irving, who is notoriously unreliable (he has demanded a trade out of every team he’s been on in his NBA career) as well as the Nets organization in general, which has historically not been the best run franchise in the league.
But KD was trying to show the world that he could win without Steph and the Warriors. So it’s hard for me to hold that against him. At least he tried, you know? I don’t think he was feeling validated or fulfilled winning those championships in Golden State, because deep down he knew, they were hollow. Klay Thompson doesn’t tear his ACL in game 6 of the 2019 Finals, the Warriors might’ve won that series without KD entirely.
So what I think, and this is just my opinion of course, is that whether KD won 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 or even 10 rings in Golden State, he was never going to feel truly fulfilled by that, because he knew deep down that he took the easy route. He took the shortcut. The NBA community let him know he hadn’t proven shit despite the 2 rings and 2 Finals MVPs he won, and I think he felt deep down that they were right. I don’t think he proved anything to himself, either. And so that’s why he went to Brooklyn. He wanted a real challenge.
Colin Cowherd still to this day bashes KD for leaving Golden State, but those weren’t real rings they were winning there. They were an unbeatable superteam. It wasn’t fulfilling. You can knock KD for going to Brooklyn with Kyrie after he left Golden State, though. That’s a fair criticism. That probably wasn’t the best move on KD’s part.
But I totally understand why he left Golden State in the first place.
From what I can tell, Brooklyn has 2 first round picks this year in the 2023 draft: their own, and either Houston or Philly’s. But then they don’t have another first round pick until 2027, which they got from Philly for Harden. They’ve got a 2028 first rounder and it looks like 2 first rounders in 2029.
So Brooklyn does have some first round picks to offer in trades for a potential star player. Plus they have a lot of really solid role players as well that other teams would covet. I’m talking about Clayton, Seth Curry, TJ Warren, Royce O’Neal, Yuta Watanabe, Joe Harris, Cam Thomas—they’ve got snipers all over the place.
Cam Thomas has been going crazy lately. Dude has 40+ in three straight games, like where did this come from?
There are pieces in Brooklyn. It’s a solid roster. It’s not a championship roster, but if KD plays out of his mind he could lead on them on a special run, and I think it would really bolster his career resume. It will show he’s not a flake who bails when the going gets tough, you know? And that’s one of the biggest knocks on him.
I think KD could really prove a lot by going out there and balling out with this squad.
Somebody needs to get their man here, because Ja Morant is out of control:
Are you kidding me?
How is the league going to tolerate this?
Adam Silver needs to put his foot down here. David Stern would never tolerate this.
We all make jokes about how Ja is a fake tough guy who grew up in the suburbs. He’s probably just LARPing here and trying to act like a tough guy.
But still, this crosses a line. Adam Silver had better get his players under control.
And there’s a fight every other night it seems like, too.
This is what happens when you get a commissioner who is too pro-player. Nobody fears him or respects Adam Silver.