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NBA career points leaders: LeBron passes Kobe, here’s how many games it might take to top the scoring list

nba career points leaders lebron james passes kobe on all time scoring list
In his Jan. 25 game, LeBron James passed Kobe Bryant to become third in all-time points scored. Pic credit: NBA on ESPN/YouTube

On Saturday night, LeBron James passed Kobe Bryant to move into third place on the NBA career points leaders list. The historic milestone was celebrated by the Philadelphia 76ers and their hometown crowd, who were also delighted to see their team pick up the big home win.

Meanwhile, LeBron has a shot to reach a few more milestones before his career is over. So how many points and games will he need to move up to the next two spots on the NBA all-time scoring list?

LeBron passes Kobe on NBA career points leaders list

King James is relatively new in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers, but his time within the league has certified him amongst all-time greats.

Over the course of his career, he’s continued to rack up impressive stats and move up the all-time leaders list. Once he surpassed Michael Jordan for career points, it added more fuel to the fire for those G.O.A.T. debates.

On Saturday, January 25, the Lakers visited the Sixers with the game televised by ABC and ESPN. It included a LeBron watch as the commentators continued to mention how close he was to passing all-time Lakers great Kobe Bryant.

Before the game started, LeBron was 18 points away from passing Kobe. He and the Lakers experienced their scoring woes with James ultimately moving past Bryant in the third quarter after a layup.

During a timeout after LeBron James achieved the latest milestone, the Philadelphia crowd gave the King a standing ovation. He would wave to the crowd to give thanks for their recognition.

Following his achievement, LeBron also spoke of how surreal it felt based on being in a Lakers jersey playing in Bryant’s home city when he passed him. According to ESPN, he also talked about Bryant’s impact on his journey.

“Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration,” James told the media.

“It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it’s very humbling, and it’s dope.”

How many points and games for LeBron to move up the NBA scoring list?

LeBron James now has a career total of 33,655 points, as of this report. He’s 12 points ahead of the retired Kobe but has two all-time greats ahead of him on the list now.

Sitting at No. 2 overall is longtime Utah Jazz All-Star and former Lakers player, Karl Malone. The Mailman scored an impressive 36,928 points throughout his career, many of which came due to one of the all-time assists leaders, John Stockton, in Utah.

The all-time scoring list leader is Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, who spent 14 years as a member of the Lakers. Kareem, who made the skyhook famous during his career, has 38,387 points next to his name at the top of the list.

Here’s a look at the top five of the NBA’s all-time points leaders per Basketball-Reference:

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 38,387 points in 1,560 games
  • Karl Malone: 36,928 points in 1,476 games
  • LeBron James: 33,655 points in 1,242 games
  • Kobe Bryant: 33,643 points in 1,346 games
  • Michael Jordan: 32,292 points in 1,072 games

As seen above, Malone played in over 200 more games, which would mean three more seasons. Kareem played in over 300 more games, which is a bit less than four seasons based on the 82-game schedule.

However, Bryant needed 104 more games than LeBron has played to reach his points total. Kobe also played for 20 years, whereas LeBron has been in the league 17 now.

The Lakers have 36 games left this season, so James won’t be passing Malone unless he does some serious scoring. However, should his health hold up and he continues to perform at the high level he has, that No. 2 spot is reachable next season.

James had a lower scoring output last season with the Lakers due to missing time with injury. He’d finish the season with 1,505 points for the 2018-19 campaign. In the three seasons prior, he never had less than 1,900 points and achieved a career-high of 2,251 points in 2017-18 with Cleveland.

The all-time spot could be the interesting one for LeBron. Should he win another championship or two, will he decide to call it quits before he’s played enough seasons to reach the top? The 2020 NBA All-Star captain also has other endeavors he’s pursuing. That includes businesses, media, and of course, his family, so it’s not inconceivable that he could make that tough decision to walk away before reaching the No. 1 spot.

He may need another 170 to 200 games to put his name on top of that all-time list. So James will need to keep his career going for at least this season and two more at his consistent superstar level. If he starts to diminish in terms of ability, that can also hurt his chances to become No. 1 all-time on the list.

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