LeBron James, in the firmament of the NBA

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At 38, the Los Angeles Lakers player became the best scorer in the history of the North American basketball league on Tuesday, February 7, breaking the record held since 1984 by another glory of the “Purple and Gold”, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

King James has never worn his nickname so well. Twenty years after his arrival in the big league, the star of the Los Angeles Lakers has just been crowned the leading scorer in NBA history, with 38,390 career points. The native of Akron (Ohio) had already become the fourth best passer a week earlier, distributing his 10,338th offering against the New York Knicks.

For several months now, lovers of the orange ball have been watching his points counter. Some even caught themselves imagining comment he would break the record. The league, she had seen things big. ” We will make the match available all over the world, announced his boss Adam Silver in January. We will probably stop the match to mark the moment, history. We will then plan a larger celebration to match the event. And for good reason: it had been nearly 40 years since the record had been beaten. The last to succeed: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, another glory of the “Purple and Gold”, one evening in April 1984. The pivot had ended his career five years later, at the age of 42, with 38,387 points on the clock.

It was finally on a two-point basket at home against Oklahoma City that LeBron James became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. There are then only a few seconds left in the third quarter and the Lakers are led by seven points by the Thunder. The number 6, he has already scored 34. He receives the ball at the head of the racket, poses three dribbles and with a back shot on one leg, wins the mythical record. Immediately, the match ends. The King exults.

Exceptional longevity

LeBron James had that record in his sights for quite a while. ” I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t aiming for it “, he admitted in December 2019, just crowned with his title of “Best Sportsman of the Decade” by the AP news agency. Not to the point of obsessing over it, he swore though. ” I always let things take their course. It happens what must happen. But I have it in mind. Ambitious, but philosophical. LeBron James was about to celebrate his 35th birthday and was then in fourth place in the ranking of the best scorers, just behind Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone, and 5,000 points from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That is the equivalent of two and a half seasons at an average of 25 points per game.

For many players of the same age, such a goal would have seemed unattainable. This is usually when sores start to pile up and performance declines. But on LeBron James, time seems to be slipping. The colossus of 2.06 m for 113 kilos may not be spared injuries himself, but these do not seem to have any impact on his performance. At 38, he is having one of his best seasons, averaging 30.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7 assists per game. On January 31, he even became the first player in NBA history to achieve a triple-double (more than 10 pts, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the same game) during his 20th season. What force the admiration of the other cadors of the circuit. ” He is the ultimate example for an athlete », said of him his Brooklyn Nets counterpart, Kevin Durant.

The secret of this longevity? An evidence: a draconian diet. Cryotherapy, daily bodybuilding sessions with individual coaches, meals prepared by his personal cooks… LeBron James indicated in 2018 that he spent $ 1.5 million each year to keep in shape and be able to cash the 80 games of a regular season. The 30-something also emphasizes the mental aspect, integrating yoga sessions into his routine and ensuring the quality of his sleep. ” It’s something I’ve always favored, and it’s just as important to my game, my career and my life as any physical exercise. “, he argued three years ago, signing a multi-year contract with a famous meditation application.

“The Chosen One”

Mental, it was necessary to support the pressure of the hopes placed in him. Still a high school student, LeBron James is already announced as the heir to Michael Jordan. He is 17 years old and is on the cover of the American reference magazine Sports Illustrated. Jersey of his high school St. Vincent-St. Mary on his back, wide-eyed and outstretched arm as if to touch the dream that is offered to him, he looks like a child on Christmas Day. In capital letters: The Chosen One “. Just that. ” I feared we’d ruin this kid’s life », will tell years later journalist Grant Wahl at sports news site The Undefeated – now Andscape. But the “kid” has solid shoulders. He proved it the following year, without going through the university box, by turning over 20 points on average with his Cleveland Cavaliers team, and ended the season with the title of best rookie of the year.

Twenty years later, his track record speaks for itself. Four-time NBA champion (in 2012 and 2013 with the Miami Heat, in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers and in 2020 with the Los Angeles Lakers), four times voted best player of the regular season, LeBron James was also a two-time medalist. Gold at the Olympics with the US National Team. And with 19 selections in the All Star Game, the match that brings together the best players in the league each year, he has just equaled Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record.

So much for the player. Savvy businessman – he is the first active NBA basketball player to feature in ranking Forbes billionaires –, the man is also distinguished by his commitment to the African-American community. When he is not sharing his performances on social networks, he is the first to denounce racial injustices. ” Do you understand now??!!?? », he was indignant thus on Instagram the day after the death of George Floyd, in the caption of a photomontage showing on one side the white police officer Derek Chauvin and on the other the ex-quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick. He also happens to put his hand in his pocket: to finance aid programs, found a school or an association encouraging black Americans to vote.

Who to dethrone him?

« Over the past few years, my respect and admiration have only grown as I have seen him champion important causes. I’m happy to pass the torch to someone so worthy “, recently declared Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, tempering the criticisms he had addressed to him after a gesture deemed inappropriate during a game against the Indiana Pacers or when the Lakers star had compared the Covid-19 to a flu and a common cold. ” LeBron deserved this record and I hope he keeps it longer than me. »

Will the King make it? His first pursuer in the leading scorer standings, Kevin Durant, is 12,000 points behind him. But the Brooklyn Nets winger is already 34 and easily injury prone. Not to mention that the new record holder does not intend to stop there. He has announced that he wants to end his career on the same team as his son LeBron Jr., whatever it is. Currently in high school, “Bronny” could join the NBA in 2024. LeBron James would then be in his fortieth year and would become the first player in history to play in the big league alongside his offspring. A good way to keep his throne in the firmament of the NBA.


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