NBA

'We will never see another LeBron' – Magic Johnson and Joe Biden lead 'King James' tributes

By Sports Desk February 08, 2023

United States president Joe Biden has praised LeBron James for "inspiring the nation" after surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time regular season NBA scoring record.

Los Angeles Lakers forward James entered Tuesday's game with the Oklahoma City Thunder needing 36 points to break Abdul-Jabbar's record, which had stood for 39 years.

The four-time MVP moved past Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 career points to go outright number one with a 14-foot fadeaway jumper late in the third quarter at Crypto.com Arena.

James' game-high 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting with three steals were not enough to prevent the Lakers from losing 133-130 to the visiting Thunder.

But it was job done on an individual level as he strengthened his case as being the greatest basketball player of all time – a debate that will rumble on for some time.

A number of sports stars and wider global figures have paid tribute to James, who now has 38,390 career points to go with the four NBA titles won with three different teams.

"LeBron, congratulations. With your whole heart and soul you broke a hell of a record. You elevated the game," US president Biden said in a video message. 

"More than that, like Kareem, Bill Russell and others who came before you, you challenged and inspired the nation to be better, do better and live up to our full promise."

James rose with both arms in celebration after making history and posed for photos with 75-year-old Abdul-Jabbar, who was in attendance in Los Angeles.

Fellow Lakers great Magic Johnson said: "I never thought that Kareem's scoring record would be broken by anybody. 

"It means more to myself and to our fans because you're wearing that purple and gold and broke it as a Laker. 

"This historic moment is so special because we will never see another LeBron James."

James has 7,314 points across five seasons with the Lakers, having previously scored 23,119 in 859 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers and 7,919 in 294 for the Miami Heat.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver added: "It's a towering achievement that speaks to his sustained excellence over 20 seasons in the league. 

"And quite amazingly, LeBron continues to play at an elite level and his basketball history is still being written."

James is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, which is the seventh-best record in the division, narrowly ahead of Kevin Durant (29.7) and Stephen Curry (29.4).

Golden State Warriors guard Curry and Brooklyn Nets forward Durant also congratulated James on his remarkable achievement.

"Your sustained level of play for 20 years, reaching this pinnacle of scoring in basketball, it is unbelievable," Curry said. 

"Way down the road, when we're reflecting back on our careers, we'll be able to be at that level knowing what it was like to battle at the highest level."

Durant added: "It's even funny to just even say that, coming from where you have come from, how hard you grinded for this long. 

"It's been an inspiration since day one. Much love and keep setting the bar high."

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