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LeBron crosses 30K point threshold

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LeBron crosses 30K point threshold (AP photo/Tony Dejak)

LeBron has passed yet another marker on his journey toward basketball immortality.

With a basket at the end of the first quarter in a game against the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 24, the Cleveland Cavaliers small forward became the seventh NBA player to score at least 30,000 career points. It’s rarified air – the names above him read like a who’s who of the game’s greats. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Dirk Nowitzki (the only other active player to have crossed that threshold).

He is also the youngest to do so by more than a year, reaching the mark at 33 years, 24 days; the previous fastest to 30K was Bryant at 34 years, 104 days. His relative youth – as well as the fact that he continues to perform at the highest level – means that he has a real shot at continuing to climb the list.

Maybe even all the way to the top.

Look – I don’t have to tell you about how great LeBron is. Despite having just turned 33, he has been an NBA star for well over a decade. He’s already in his 15th season in the league. And he has been one of the best in the world – if not THE best – for that entire stretch. He has four MVP awards and eight more top-five finishes.

It’s admittedly unlikely, but if LeBron can stay healthy and keep playing at a reasonably high level with a normal decline in performance, he has a relatively small but definitely significant shot at retiring as the all-time leading scorer in NBA history. He’s still over 8,000 points away from Kareem, but with another 700 or so this year, he’d be looking at about five good years (or four great ones) to take the crown. He’s probably just over two seasons away from passing Kobe for third – he’ll get there without breaking a sweat, barring injury.

LeBron has been King James since he arrived in the league as a 19-year-old phenom back in 2003. All he’s done since then is completely rewrite the book with regards to what it means to be an NBA star. He’s a man among men, a physical freak who also happens to have one of the most insightful basketball minds of his generation.

Oh, and he does a hell of a lot more than just score.

Did you know that LeBron currently sits 12th on the all-time assists list? It’s true. He’s also second among active players – only Chris Paul has more (albeit nearly 1,000 more). At his current pace, he’ll pass Rod Strickland to move into 11th place before the end of the season. The bar to be cleared is pretty high after that, but the aforementioned five good years would get him within spitting distance of the top five.

His rebounding numbers aren’t as impressive – he’s only in the mid-60s all time for boards, though he’s got a real shot at getting up to 10,000, which would put him inside the top 40. When you’re among the 40 best ever at something and it’s an afterthought due to your excellence in other areas, well – you’re pretty good at basketball.

Seriously – LeBron is already in uncharted territory; he was the first player to ever achieve career totals of 27,000 points, 7,000 assists and 7,000 rebounds. If he simply performs to historical norms over the next four or five years, he’s going to wind up looking at 35,000/10,000/10,000 – a statistical body of work that is frankly staggering.

Obviously, there’s no way of predicting how the next few years will play out for LeBron. But even if he were to step away tomorrow, he has put together a Hall of Fame body of work. He’s an all-time great – 30,000 points is a milestone achieved a mere handful of times in league history.

Hail to the King.

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 January 2018 23:29

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