If LeBron James wants to play long enough, not only does he have a strong chance to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time NBA scoring record, his friend and teammate Dwyane Wade says he will do it.
"I think he can, I think he can," Wade told Cleveland.com. "I've always said I think he will end (No.) 1 or 2.
"... Once he looks at it and says, 'That's only 8,000 away at some point let me see what I can do,' I think he will try to go get it."
Scoring doesn’t define James, but in his 15th season, he has established himself as one of the game’s greatest scorers. (He is also in great position to finish in the top five all-time in points and assists).
With a deep jumper to end the first quarter Tuesday night, James joined Dirk Nowitzki (30,837), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419), Michael Jordan (32,292), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Karl Malone (36,928) and Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) in the 30,000-point club.
The first person he embraced after reaching the milestone? Wade.
“It’s not up there in the goals I set out for myself to be in this league,” James said last week. “I definitely looked at the list and saw the list and seen of all the guys that have played in this league and the number of guys that have played in this league. It's definitely a select few. It’s a select company. So in that right, it’s special. But I can honestly sit here and say that I’ve never set out to set scoring records or be a part of a scoring club.”
Not only is the 33-year-old James the youngest to reach 30,000 points, he's also the fourth-fastest to do it in games — behind Abdul-Jabbar, Jordan and Chamberlain.
"When I walk into the 30,000-point club they’re going to look at me like, ‘What are you doing here?’ ” James said. “I ain’t supposed to be there.”
James is there and belongs, despite what he said. His career scoring average is 27.1, and he has averaged at least 25 points a season every year outside of his rookie campaign, while shooting 50.3% from the field and 34.3% on three-pointers for his career.
What will it take for James to become the all-time leader? Short answer: He needs to average 21.6 points in 70 games per season from 2018-19 through 2022-23 when he’s 38 years old.