It was only a matter of time until LeBron James became the youngest player ever to reach 30,000 points. After all, he has also been the youngest to 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 and 25,000 points.
James entered Tuesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs needing seven points to hit the 30,000-point mark in his career. He got points seven and eight with just 1.1 seconds left in the opening frame at AT&T Center, pulling up for a jumper over the outstretched left arm of Spurs defender Danny Green:
The rhythm jumper sent Cleveland into the second quarter with a 29-25 lead, and James into the record books … yet again.
James eclipsed his latest plateau more than a year younger than Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who previously claimed the youngest-to-30,000 moniker on Dec. 5, 2012, at the age of 34 years, 104 days. The Cleveland Cavaliers superstar is 33 years, 24 days, three weeks removed from his birthday on Dec. 30.
James joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Bryant, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Dirk Nowitzki as the only players in NBA history to score 30,000 points. Julius Erving scored 30,026 points if you include the 11,662 he scored in five ABA seasons on the Virginia Squires and New York Nets.
LeBron congratulated his younger self on the feat before the game:
To be clear, James is not the fastest player to 30,000 points. That honor still belongs to Chamberlain, who required just 941 games to reach the milestone. Tuesday’s outing against the San Antonio Spurs marked game No. 1,107 for James, making him the fourth-fastest player to 30,000 — also behind Jordan (960 games) and Abdul-Jabbar (1,101). It took Bryant 1,180 games to get there.
Still, James continues his ascent of the all-time scoring list. He is currently in seventh place, trailing the still-active Nowitzki’s 30,808 points for sixth. Should James remain healthy and continue to score at his current pace (27 points per game) for the remainder of this season and next, he should surpass Chamberlain (31,419) and Jordan (32,292). Bryant (33,643) would then fall in the 2019-20 season.
The only question now is whether James catches Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA-record 38,387 career points. An average of 20 points over 75 games for the next six seasons would get him the 9,000 points he needs to become the league’s all-time leading scorer, and that’s certainly within reason, given his durability through 15 seasons and his stated goal of playing with his now 13-year-old son, LeBron James Jr.
Kevin Durant became the second-youngest player to score 20,000 points just two weeks ago. He was 29 years and 103 days old, more than a year older than James when he joined the 20,000 club. It took Durant 737 games to get there, 11 more than James, but fewer than all but nine players in NBA history.
At his current pace, it will take at least six more seasons for Durant to get to 30,000 points. The only other active players with more than 20,000 career points are Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Vince Carter, Dwyane Wade, Pau Gasol and Joe Johnson — all of whom are already older than LeBron.
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