Saturday, June 3 2023

It doesn’t matter if you like the Los Angeles Lakers or if you hate them so much that yellow makes you yell and purple makes you puke.

It doesn’t matter if you love LeBron James with starstruck fervor or if you love to hate him, because hey, that’s part of sporting fandom too.

Tuesday night wasn’t about all that kind of stuff. It was an occasion as much as it was a game, although on a periphery note, it was actually a pretty darn good game, certainly when considering the respective standings of the Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

No, this was a time to marvel at the weight of numbers and everything they represent. With every point he gained James had Arena screaming ever louder for the pull of destiny. With each shot he missed it was a reminder that collecting points in the NBA is no simple proposition, let alone 38,388 of them.


That’s the mark James reached with 10.9 seconds left in the third quarter, to bypass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time career points list, as the former record-holder sat courtside, the man everyone looked at when they weren’t looking at James, even with a who’s who of celebrities filling the pricey seats.

It is and will remain an extraordinary and possibly unbreakable piece of history, one that, truth be told, deserves more than the Lakers season in which it took place, with the chase of posterity overshadowing months of consistently dismal performance. Even Tuesday’s accomplishment came in a loss to a likely lottery team.

But there’s been no inconsistency from James. He’s been hungry and remorseless, averaging 30 per game on the campaign even amid competitive frustration. It is possible to pick holes in anything, but it is also appropriate to know when not to, for if we love sports we must also recognize those who dedicate their lives to trying to perfect them.

Give the man his due. He’s never stopped and rarely slowed. He hasn’t always found winning situations, but he’s always sought them. He’s won titles for three franchises and assembled a collection of four rings. He’s probably not going to touch Michael Jordan’s six titles but he sure as heck was going to get this statistical behemoth, and from the moment he walked into the building on Tuesday it was clear this was the night he’d determined fit to do so.

There’s no “yeah, but.” You don’t fluke, or finagle, or sneak your way to 1,000 points in this league, let alone all these multiples of that number. It doesn’t matter if you felt The Decision was handled poorly, or if there’s sometimes been too much bombast, or if the COVID championship was weird, or if James made it all about himself on occasion.

Right now is for the applause, because that’s what you do when people defy what we think is feasible, like Michael Phelps did, and Serena Williams did, and Tom Brady, and all those who took conventional logic and laughed in the face of it.

You can’t argue with what it took, the combination of outrageously difficult things. To come into the league right out of high school, to start starring at the age his eldest child Bronny is now. To be the best and most prolific the league – for not some, or much, or most of his career – but for all of it.

To stay healthy for that long. And, arguably most head-scratching of all, to reach the ultimate Everest of a scoring summit as something other than a pure scorer.

He won’t be around forever. There’s still a bit to go, so we are not yet at the point of saying enjoy James while he lasts. To be frank, there have been points this season when the Lakers have not been enjoyable to watch, not in the slightest.

This was different. The team can’t defend well, but there was intense effort, summed up by Anthony Davis‘ dive into the bench to save a ball that would soon lead to James moving to within one of Abdul-Jabbar.

And then it happened, a fadeaway jumper that will live forever. The game stopped, for records like this are desperately rare. His family hit the court, Kareem moved to center circle, commissioner Adam Silver gave a speech and a montage played.

Time didn’t stand still, because it never does, it just feel like that sometimes. It moves on, quicker than we realize, which is how history is made, not all in one go, but bit by bit – in this case basket by basket.

Which is how the impossible becomes possible, and nights like this turn into celebrations.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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LeBron James and son Bronny share prophetic moment on way to scoring record: 'Go ahead and get it'


LeBron James breaks NBA’s all-time scoring record, passes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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