Move over Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; there’s a new all-time scoring leader in the National Basketball Association (NBA). His name is LeBron James.
James’ shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder was heard worldwide on Feb. 7. James and the Los Angeles Lakers lost that night, but the sight of the record-clinching shot dominated any headlines of the game’s outcome.
James was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft straight out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. High expectations were placed on the Akron product, who has had to overcome waves of scrutiny throughout his NBA tenure. A decorated career puts him in conversation with Michael Jordan for the greatest basketball player of all time. After four championships, four Most Valuable Player Awards and 19 All-Star selections, James is now the NBA’s No. 1 scorer.
His floor management and wide shot selection have made him arguably the most dominant and versatile player over the last two decades. James is No. 1 all-time in points scored, but also No. 4 in assists.
David Aldridge, a veteran journalist for The Athletic, marveled at James’ consistent scoring despite being a facilitator for most of his career.
“LeBron’s three-point shot has never been central to his game, and that’s important because it speaks to why he’s been able to maintain his high play,” Aldridge said. “He wasn’t a guy that just stood outside the line and shot threes. As he got older, he could still be very effective because he fought and finished the game at a higher level than most players. He knows how to manipulate defenses. He gets the ball to the right guy and shoots at the right time.”
James’ longevity as a superstar in nearly every season is a testament to his greatness. NBA senior writer Marc J. Spears credits his long-term success to his discipline in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“It’s a testament to how he takes care of his body,” Spears said. “He’s taken stretching and dieting seriously since high school. When you take such meticulous care of your body, it inevitably takes good care of you back. But no one would’ve guessed his body would take care of him in the sense that he looks 28 at age 38.”
Spears also commended James’ high-level scoring, despite “not being known as a score-first guy.”
“He makes everyone better,” Spears said. “He is a pass-first guy. So to have that mentality and be No. 1 soon says a lot about his longevity and game.”
James has faced relentless criticism from sports media and fans, arguably more than any player. Despite his scoring title, analysts such as Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, and Chris Russo still diminished James compared to other historic NBA players.
Former NBA shooting guard J.J. Redick hopped to the defense of James on his podcast, The Old Man and the Three.
Also at James’ defense was Toussaint Fancher, a junior journalism major at Howard University.
“I don’t think he gets enough credit for the accomplishment,” Fancher said. “It’s a record that’s stood since 1984. He’s exceeded all expectations and, in my opinion, is the greatest of all time.”
James never let criticism deter him before and certainly didn’t let it affect him that night. James instead recognized the support he had received over the years.
Copy edited by Alana Matthew