NBA: LeBron James’ record-breaking night in LA felt like the final fulfilment of his destiny
When Babe Ruth retired from baseball in 1935, he had hit 714 home runs over the course of his career, and no one thought he would ever break his record.
That number, 714, became one of the most famous numbers in sport, a bit like Bobby Charlton’s 49 goals for England was for longtime football fans. In golf, 18 is the magic number, the number of majors won by Jack Nicklaus.
Ruth’s record stood for 34 years until it was revised by Hank Aaron and then more recently and controversially by Barry Bonds.
However, the one record in the sport that many felt would survive all attempts to surpass it was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA career total of 38,387 points, a record that has stood since 1984 and reflects levels superhuman brilliance, consistency and durability. all in one.
On Tuesday night, at the Crypto.com Arena, formerly the Staples Center, the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, in front of showbiz royalty, including Denzel Washington and Jay-Z, who had come to witness the story, LeBron James broke that record and, in the eyes of many, established himself once and for all as the greatest basketball player to ever play this game.
LeBron James now sits alone atop the NBA scoring list, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Los Angeles Lakers star James broke the record in front of thousands of fans.
James raised his hands in the air as his teammates celebrated before harassing the King.
James is 38 years old, and while he’s playing on a lackluster Lakers team that’s unlikely to make the playoffs this season, he’s now scoring more points per game than his career average of 27.1 points.
The Lakers lost the game 133-130 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but not before James broke the record in the third quarter and participated in a midgame courtside ceremony with Abdul-Jabbar and NBA commissioner, Adam Silver.
“LeBron James is now the all-time leading scorer in NBA history,” the TV commentator yelled as James hit the record-breaking jumper. The king wears the crown.
James has been known as King James almost since he broke into the league as an 18-year-old fresh out of high school for his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, and Tuesday night felt like the final fulfillment of his destiny. .
The rush to hail him as the game’s all-time greatest was instantaneous and inevitable, but it’s just as hard to compare greatness across the ages in basketball as it is in soccer.
Asking whether James is better than Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell is as difficult as deciding whether Pele was better than Diego Maradona and whether both were better than Lionel Messi or Roger Federer was better than Rod Laver.
A newspaper columnist told fans to ‘turn off ‘The Last Dance’ videos after James’ record
There will always be debate about whether Jordan (pictured) or LeBron come out on top
Jordan won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, on both sides of a bid to make it as a professional baseball player with the minor league Birmingham Barons, compared to four titles James has won with the Miami Heat, Cavaliers and the Lakers. Many say that the fact that James has won with three different teams gives him an advantage. Others point to Jordan’s highest scoring average, the best of all time.
“Turn off the ‘The Last Dance’ videos,” Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke wrote after the game, “lose the Bulls romance glasses, part the myths from the men, and reality will thunder like a trademark dunk.” by james tomahawk”. James, not Jordan, is the GOAT.’
There is no right answer to that debate. There never is because beauty in sport is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe you like Federer, maybe you like Rafa Nadal. You might think that Tiger Woods had a bigger impact on golf than Nicklaus. You might think that George Best would have dwarfed all of soccer’s greats if he had played internationally for one of the leading nations.
I will always think of Jordan as the greatest basketball player of all time because he was bigger than the sport in a way that James is not. Jordan is not measured next to other basketball players.
LeBron’s incredible career has seen him surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s (right) record.
James celebrated the achievement with his sons Bronny (L) and Bryce (R) on Tuesday night.
He is measured alongside sports stars like Muhammad Ali and Pele and Billie Jean King, stars who changed the game they played and also changed the society around them. It is measured by both its cultural importance and its sporting importance.
Jordan was not the first black basketball star. far from there And in many ways, the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and their Lakers and Boston Celtics teams in the mid-1980s had propelled the NBA to new levels. But Jordan took the visibility and popularity of the NBA into a different stratosphere.
And even if he was notoriously reluctant to get involved in politics, Jordan’s success as a player, publicist, front man and businessman helped change racial stereotypes in the United States.
James now stands alone at the top, having passed Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone.
Despite the incredible achievement, don’t discount someone else breaking the record one day.
In Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the world he made, author David Halberstam wrote about one aspect of Jordan’s influence. ‘In the past,’ Halberstam observed, ‘America’s ideal of beauty had always been essentially white; American men had looked longingly at themselves in the mirror, hoping to see Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, or Robert Redford. Jordan, shaved head and all, had given America nothing less than a new definition of beauty for a new era.
James has also built a reputation as a successful businessman, even as his playing career has continued to flourish and it’s not his fault he’s playing in the league whose popularity Jordan built.
It doesn’t diminish him and when he broke Abdul-Jabbar’s record on Tuesday night, he accomplished something that was beyond Jordan and beyond anyone else.
It’s tempting to say that James’ record will never be broken, but history teaches us to be wary of the sport’s capacity for human effort.