“ It’s about damn time. “
There’s an aspect of every sport which is definitive and undebatable, no matter how much we appreciate or hate it. Statistics and Records. Some of these create a timeless legacy that we wonder if it will ever be touched. Sachin Tendulkar’s total runs, Messi and Ronaldo’s sheer number of goals, Brady’s Superbowl rings, Bill Russel’s NBA Championships, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s scoring record, to name a few. But you come across a generational talent that dares not only to surpass these records but leave them in the dust. The Kid from Akron would never have expected it in his wildest dreams, yet destiny had something else written for The Chosen One.
On the eve of 8th Feb, 36 points shy of the scoring record, LeBron James entered the arena dressed in all black, which meant just one thing, tonight’s all about the business. Adam Lefkoe from TNT summed it up the best “it’s all black because it’s funeral for his haters”. LA had something to be excited about this season, if not for the team’s performance, but for one man’s greatness who leaves it all on the court whenever he steps on it. Everyone who’s someone is in attendance to witness the moment that no one thought would come for the last 4 decades.
Let’s understand the magnitude of this record. 38,387 regular season points. When this record was set by the great Kareem Abdul Jabbar, no one thought any individual would come close to it. Given the longevity of Kareem’s career combined with the scoring proficiency, it would mean someone would have to play lights out every game of every season for almost 20 years to break this record. Basketball is a physically demanding sport, especially NBA with 82 regular season games every season followed by playoff basketball. For anyone to break this record, they would need to score atleast 24 points per game for 20 seasons without missing any game. Forget about the load management altogether if you are aiming for this record. You would basically need a superhuman athlete at the peak of his prowess. Enter LeBron James.
No athlete has been under more intense scrutiny than LeBron James since he turned pro. And no one has delivered on those expectations better than LeBron James. He has found naysayers and critics at every step of his career yet he has used them as motivation to reach greater heights. He is someone who can score on anyone and anytime if he wished to yet he sacrifices to make the right decision on the court, just for his team’s success. Result: he has been to NBA Finals every other season of his career on average with 9 consecutive trips to the Finals. A pass-first guy who became the youngest scorer to reach 10k, 20k, and 30k points. Considering his athleticism, and physical and mental conditioning, breaking Kareem’s record was not a matter of if but when. Not to mention also become 4th on the all-time assists list this season. Imagine passing Magic for the assists and Kareem for the scoring record while wearing purple and gold. That’s special.
This evening would remain etched in the memories of NBA fans for decades to come. Basketball is about scoring buckets just like football is about scoring goals. Being the highest scorer in the history of the sport has got to be the crowning jewel and the single greatest individual accomplishment one could wish for. Fans hoped that the record-breaking moment would come in the form of a signature tomahawk dunk or maybe an imitation of skyhook in the presence of Kareem himself. Wouldn’t that be something? But a one-legged midrange fadeaway jumper from the free throw line ain’t bad itself. Every bucket and every shot was cheered like a championship point in a Game 7. Even though the Lakers lost the match, not sure if any Lakers loss would have been this memorable in recent memory.
It has been some time since he has broken this record now and the narrative before and after this milestone has been both funny and idiotic as well. Ohh, the stupid US media. LeBron James has been the subject of every debate and barbershop conversation when it comes to the greatest to ever play the sport. It will always be tough to compare eras and players as it is never conclusive, always emotional and 100% illogical. However, the fact remains that the player with the most points in the regular season, and postseason, with a career scoring average of 27+ points, just shy of 3rd all-time has to be considered the greatest scorer of all time. Period. The jury is and will always be on for the debate of the GOAT, but this achievement just adds a point so strong in the favour of LeBron that the haters have to dig really deep to find something.
On the other hand, it’s something else to hear from his peers, teammates, and past legends speak about him and his basketball IQ. It’s really hard to imagine his genius from an outsider’s perspective. Isn’t that the case with every genius out there? LeBron is a basketball savant. There’s no play, tactics, strategy, or defence he hasn’t been through. At this point in time, it’s no surprise to hear his teammates recall the incidents when he could accurately call out the opposing team’s play out of a timeout. He is such a deadly combination of brute force, panache and wit.
King James is ageing like a fine wine, like the one he enjoys every night, literally. What could be the next thing which satiates his basketball hunger after all his accomplishments? Being on the same court and the same jersey as his son. And LeGM will make it happen. No player has looked better in the twilight years of his career. He is not slowing down and could easily sustain another few seasons down the line. Sustain, hell, he can very well tear up the league if he wishes for it. Imagine an experienced LeBron and his young athletic gene on the same floor. I guess there’s one record that he could still very well create which would put the rest of the 30-year-old in the league to shame: a father-son duo reaching the NBA finals, and who knows, ending up winning it. Will they compete for the Finals MVP? Nah, LeBron is going to give it up. Will he? Well, time will tell. Fingers crossed!