Debates around the greatest of all time in sport can often be as polarising as any other.

Now that LeBron James has surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to stand at the top of the NBA's all-time leading scoring chart though, it seems appropriate to review the case for the 38-year-old to be considered the greatest basketball player of all time.

In what has without question been at least one of the best careers ever seen, James has four NBA championships to his name, as well as four Finals MVPs, four NBA MVPs, 19 All-Star selections and three All-Star MVPs. His 13 All-NBA First Team selections are two more than anybody else.

Enough to make any doubter's eyes water.

Added to that, after overtaking Kareem on Tuesday, he not only stands alone atop the all-time scoring list, but has a real opportunity to pull away and perhaps even go past 40,000 before hanging up his sneakers. He has long been the playoff scoring king, with his 7,631 playoff points already 1,644 clear of second-placed Michael Jordan.

It isn't just racking up the points, he has also passed on his fair share of assists, recently pushing past Steve Nash on that all-time leaderboard, with James now fourth for NBA assists.

As the first pick of the 2003 NBA Draft, it was hardly surprising that James impressed from the start with the Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 20.9 points per game (PPG) in his debut season from 79 games.

It was the 2005-06 season where he really exploded, though, averaging 31.4 PPG in the regular season, which remains his highest ever for a campaign, before recording 30.8 PPG in the playoffs, where the Cavs were eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals by the Detroit Pistons.

James took Cleveland to the postseason for five straight campaigns, agonisingly losing the 2007 Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, before taking the mantel again in 2009 as he put up 35.3 PPG in 14 playoff outings before more Conference final heartbreak against the Orlando Magic.

The television event titled 'The Decision' was controversial, though undoubtedly captivating as James dramatically revealed he was leaving the Cavs for the Miami Heat in 2010.

However, it turned out to be the catalyst for him to reach the next step as he was immediately surrounded by more talent in Miami, and before long, much-deserved silverware.

Linking up superbly with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, James reached the Finals every year in Florida, winning his first championship in 2012, before following it up in 2013 with another.

His numbers were slightly lower at the Heat than they had been in Cleveland, though that perhaps owed to the fact that when deciding to join Miami, he was joining forces with arguably the league's second-best player at the time in Wade.

James' first title win in 2012 saw him average 30.3 PPG during the postseason, and led the way as he got some revenge on the Spurs in 2013, excelling in Game 7 to win his second championship.

In 2014, James came back to Cleveland with the Ohio-born star's desire to take his team to the promised land for the first time, and he did just that.

Just as he had in Miami, James went to the Finals every year of his second spell with the Cavaliers – resulting in eight consecutive Finals appearances – and every year they played against the dominant Golden State Warriors.

After losing 4-2 in 2015, they returned to get revenge in 2016 as James starred on their way to an almost Hollywood-ending win against the Warriors, securing their first NBA championship after coming back from a 3-1 deficit against a team that set the record for the best regular season ever at 73-9.

They were unable to repeat the trick as the Warriors, with the addition of Kevin Durant, beat them in both the 2017 and 2018 Finals, but reaching four Finals in a row was still more than Cavs fans could have realistically expected.

Unfortunately for them, James was getting itchy feet again.

James had a solid enough start to life in Los Angeles, posting 27.4 PPG for the Lakers in 2018-19, though injury issues sustained by him and several of his new team-mates led to a wobbly season, and therefore, no postseason for the first time for James since 2005.

Inevitably, he came roaring back the following year and in spite of the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, James and the Lakers returned to win the "bubble championship", the fourth title of his career with a third different team. In doing so, he became the only player in NBA history to win Finals MVP with three franchises.

However, the 2020-21 campaign was one to forget as James recorded his lowest PPG for a season (25.0) since his rookie year, before the Lakers were dumped out of the playoffs in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.

Was it all over for LeBron? Not likely. He responded to that setback by scoring 1,695 points in just 56 games last season at an average of 30.3 PPG, his best regular season return since 2005-06.

James also reached a notable landmark last March, becoming the first player in NBA history to record 10,000 assists and 10,000 rebounds in a career.

Unfortunately for him, his team-mates were unable to match those efforts and the Lakers again failed to even make the playoffs, which could be why they were so desperate to find the funds to tie James' immediate future down as he was given a bumper contract to make him the highest-paid player in the league.

LeBron has thrived again this season, averaging 30.0 PPG from 43 appearances as he tries to drag the Lakers back to the playoffs.

Arguments can of course be made for the player with the most NBA titles Bill Russell, or the man whose name is synonymous with so many NBA records Wilt Chamberlain, while Lakers legends Abdul-Jabbar and Kobe Bryant have to be in the conversation also.

However, ask most people who they believe to be the greatest of all time and you wil have to go a long way to find someone who doesn't immediately blurt out the name of Michael Jordan.

The Chicago Bulls icon was a five-time NBA MVP, six-time NBA champion, six-time NBA Finals MVP, 10-time All-NBA First Teamer, 14-time NBA All-Star; won 10 scoring titles and retired with the NBA's highest scoring average of 30.1 PPG.

 

Jordan was a force of nature who always seemed to raise his game beyond others exactly when his team needed it, while James has experienced more disappointment in clutch scenarios.

He has also taken his team with him to ultimate success more than once, and arguably teams that had more limitations than Jordan's best times at the Bulls.

When you consider that Jordan is also in the argument for the greatest sportsman of all time, it is testament to James that he's even in the conversation.

"It's not heavy. I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to be in this league for at least a few more years," James recently said as he closed in on Kareem's record.

Which is ominous for the rest of the league, quite frankly.

Is he the greatest of all time? As with most discussions on the topic, it probably doesn't matter.

James has scored more points than anyone else to ever compete in the NBA, and that is undisputed.

LeBron James has passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA's all-time leading points scorer in the regular season.

James reached the landmark on Tuesday in the Los Angeles Lakers' game against Oklahoma City Thunder, clinching the historic points with a fadeaway jump shot late in the third quarter. He reached the end of the third period with 36 points on 12-of-18 shooting with five rebounds and three steals.

It is the latest in a long line of achievements in the game for James, who also played for the Cleveland Cavaliers (twice) and the Miami Heat before moving to Los Angeles in 2018.

The 38-year-old recently became the fourth-highest assist maker in NBA history, and he already owned the overall combined points record including playoffs, with his 7,631 playoff points 1,644 clear of second-placed Michael Jordan.

Abdul-Jabbar retired in 1989 as the league's all-time leading scorer having registered 38,387 points during a storied career with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Lakers.

He claimed top spot in April 1984 when he surpassed the previous record of the great Wilt Chamberlain.

James now heads that list and could pull away to give himself a considerable lead as he has given little indication of an imminent retirement, instead stating his wish to one day play alongside his oldest son Bronny.

LeBron James shared on Monday that he is disappointed the Los Angeles Lakers were unable to secure his former team-mate Kyrie Irving in a trade.

The duo of James and Irving famously became the only team to ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, conquering the record-setting 73-9 Golden State Warriors for the 2016 championship.

Their history and chemistry meant that when Irving demanded a trade from the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, James believed it was exactly the opportunity his team had been waiting for, but they were beaten to the punch by the Dallas Mavericks.

According to Shams Charania from The Athletic, the Lakers proposed a deal sending Russell Westbrook and their two remaining first-round picks – in 2027 and 2029 – to the Nets, but with championship aspirations of their own, the Nets would not budge unless promising youngsters Max Christie and Austin Reaves were both also included.

It is believed that is where the Lakers drew the line, although further reporting from Marc Stein claims Nets owner Joe Tsai was never going to send Irving to Los Angeles, because he believed that is where he was trying to force his way to.

Speaking to ESPN's Michael Wilbon, James laid out why he felt Irving was a good fit on this Lakers team, but said he has already moved on.

"I can't sit here and say I'm not disappointed on not being able to land such a talent," he said. "Someone that I had great chemistry with, and know I got great chemistry with on the floor, that can help you win championships, in my mind, in my eyes.

"But my focus is shifted now. My focus is shifted back to where it should be and that's this club now and what we have in the locker room. It's a quick pivot. It don't take me long. I don't get too excited about the possibilities of things that can be. 

"I kind of envision myself on what it can, but I don't invest it all the way into it until I know it's happening, and when it does not happen, I'm back locked in on the job at hand.

"So we had an opportunity, our names were out there, the Lakers name was out there. We had an opportunity, it didn't happen. 

"We move on and we finish this season strong, try to get a bid into the postseason, where I feel if we go in healthy, we can compete with anybody."

James acknowledged that the Lakers' struggles – currently sitting 13th out of 15 Western Conference teams – have had an effect on him, but he is determined to right the ship.

"Well, I mean for me it is challenging, but I'm 10 toes down," he said. "I understand that once I show up to work, or once I show up to the job description – and that's being a leader of the ballclub every single day – there's no [question for] me on what my mindset is.

"My mindset is how we can be great today and how we can maximise today for either the next game, for the next road trip, for next film session, for the next practice, for the next bus ride, plane ride.

"I have that mentality of if we can maximise today, then it makes the next challenge that much more easy for us."

It is no secret for Westbrook that he is at the centre of these trade rumours for the Lakers as they try to ship him elsewhere, but head coach Darvin Ham said he has been nothing but professional.

"He's showing up, doing his job, being a professional – and that's all you can do for any of us," he said.

"This is an unforgiving business... dealing with rumours, different things happening. All you can do is put your head down and do your work and try to remain as professional as possible, and he's done that."

Irving – who will make his debut for the Mavericks on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers – also received a $2million bonus due to the trade kicker clause in his contract.

The latest Kyrie Irving saga is over with time to spare before the trade deadline, but how will it impact the rest of the NBA?

The Dallas Mavericks agreed a trade for Irving and Markieff Morris on Sunday, sending Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, an unprotected 2029 first-round pick and second-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to the Brooklyn Nets.

That shake-up had been anticipated as Irving pursued a trade, yet it leaves plenty to ponder ahead of Thursday's deadline.

Stats Perform considers the week's key questions as those hoping to be in contention respond to the Mavs' big move.

How does Durant react?

Irving and Kevin Durant arrived in Brooklyn together in 2019 but, for myriad reasons, the Nets never saw the best of them as a pair as they started only 71 regular season games together.

Durant repeatedly stood by Irving as various controversies threatened to derail the team, yet he has now been left behind.

While the package the Nets received from the Mavs should ensure they have enough to put around Durant and remain competitive, what does the two-time Finals MVP want for himself?

The suggestion over the weekend was the Phoenix Suns – under new ownership – would be keen on making a move for Durant if he became available, and there would be other potential contenders who would see the attraction of a genuine superstar to get them over the line.

Durant has failed previously to force his way out of Brooklyn, but his situation is certainly worth watching.

What now for the Lakers?

If not the Mavs, the Los Angeles Lakers seemed the most likely destination for Irving, with Russell Westbrook and two unprotected first-round picks said to make up the package offered to the Nets.

The Nets were understandably unconvinced by Westbrook's ability to have an impact in 2023, however, and now the Lakers must regroup.

Superstar LeBron James could be forgiven for being far from impressed with the team's inability to secure a trade he had pushed for, and his cryptic Twitter posts as news broke of the Mavs deal would suggest that is the case.

It is expected the Lakers will remain active ahead of the deadline, but Rob Pelinka's promise to only use the team's draft picks in "a move that puts us as a front-runner to get another championship" somewhat limits their potential moves.

The Utah Jazz and the Toronto Raptors have plenty of players they could move, yet none that fall into that category. Someone like Bradley Beal could perhaps be a possibility if the Lakers are determined to go all-in on helping James.

Do the Warriors have a move?

As the Mavs moved for Irving, news elsewhere indicated another shift in the Western Conference: Stephen Curry's leg injury is set to see him miss multiple weeks.

The Golden State Warriors are the defending champions but also cannot afford to be without Curry, given their middling 27-26 record.

This team looked set up to succeed long term, balancing the veteran brilliance of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green with a cast of exciting young talents, led by Jordan Poole.

But between the drama of a clash between Green and Poole, Curry's repeated fitness issues and the Warriors' generally middling form, there was already no room for error before the reigning Finals MVP went down again.

With an upturn required and Curry missing, Golden State may have to deal some of their young prospects – former number two pick James Wiseman being an obvious candidate – in order to improve their roster.

Is Anunoby as big as it gets?

With the Raptors seen as willing sellers, O.G. Anunoby has been popular in trade rumours for weeks now. As the deadline nears, it seems inevitable he will move.

A number of teams with designs on winning the title would benefit from the versatile Anunoby and his ability on both ends of the floor, averaging 16.9 points and 2.1 steals per game.

The New Orleans Pelicans and the Memphis Grizzlies appear to provide the most likely landing grounds.

But will that be it? If Durant stays put, will Anunoby be the most significant mover of the final days before the deadline?

After the Irving trade, that seems very low key, but the NBA always has the facility to surprise...

LeBron James said it was a "duh" question when asked if Kyrie Irving is a player the Los Angeles Lakers should move for before the trade deadline.

Irving has requested a trade away from the Brooklyn Nets ahead of the deadline next week.

The eight-time All-Star did not feature for the Nets on Saturday due to a calf issue, though his absence was not felt too keenly in a comeback win over the Washington Wizards.

James scored 27 points to edge closer to breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time record, yet it was not enough to help the Lakers avoid a 126-131 reverse to the New Orleans Pelicans.

While the Lakers sit a lowly 13th in the Western Conference, with a 25-29 record for the season, they might still harbour hopes of a championship push should they get on a run and make the playoffs.

In January, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said "there's no resource we'll hold onto" if an opportunity to win a championship was there, and a possible trade for Irving might just fall into that category.

For James, it is a no-brainer, though he emphasised it is not his call.

"That's a Rob question," James said when asked about the possibility of reuniting with Irving, whom he reached three NBA Finals with while at the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

"You've got to see [Pelinka] when you all get back to L.A. I don't speak for our front office.

"My mindset is whatever line-up or whatever group that we have is to make sure we prepare ourselves the best way we can to go out and win. 

"Obviously, that's a – what's the word you use – 'Duh' question when you talk about a player that like that."

One player who could be used as a makeweight in a potential trade is Russell Westbrook.

The 2017 NBA MVP had 15 points, four assists and four rebounds from the bench on Saturday, though was not called upon by Darvin Ham in the final quarter.

There is plenty of speculation over his future, but asked if he was feeling extra pressure, Westbrook replied: "I do not.

"That's not up to me. I've known this was a business since I was 18, 19-years old, since I got into it.

"My dad taught me that at that age, getting to this league is a business, and people make whatever decision they make, that's up to them.

"I've been all in since day one. I'm very supportive of my team-mates. I compete every night. I'll make sure I'm ready and professional, like I always have been and always will be."

James echoed the sentiment, adding: "It shouldn't be an issue. The trade deadline happens every single year.

"You go out and focus, no matter what happens. You're still a professional."

As for making history, James could break the points record on Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"I just want to win, you know. You play the game the right way and see what happens," he said.

"I'm tired as hell, [but] I'll be ready to go on Tuesday."

Cam Thomas starred off the bench as the depleted Brooklyn Nets came from behind to defeat the Washington Wizards 125-123 on Saturday.

Already without Ben Simmons and talisman Kevin Durant, the Nets were dealt a further blow when Kyrie Irving was ruled out due to a calf problem.

Irving's injury came just a day after news broke of his wish to leave the Nets, with the point guard having handed in a trade request.

The former Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics star was not in attendance at the Barclays Center, though that decision was a joint one with the team's management.

A bleak end to the week looked set to be compounded as the Warriors held a healthy 23-point lead, yet the Nets fought back partly thanks to Thomas' efforts.

He scored a career-high, game-leading 44 points, while Edmond Sumner chipped in with 29 as the Wizards – who lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday – became the first team in the past 25 seasons to throw away 20+ point leads on consecutive days.

Kristaps Porzingis top scored for the Wizards with 38 points.

James gets closer but Pelicans end losing streak

LeBron James is now just 36 points away from breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's long-standing NBA record, yet his efforts were not enough for the Los Angeles Lakers against the New Orleans Pelicans.

James added 27 more points to his total on Saturday, though the Lakers lost 131-126 to a Pelicans team that had suffered 10 straight defeats.

While Anthony Davis was the Lakers' standout performer with a double-double of 34 points and 14 rebounds, Brandon Ingram's 35-point haul led the Pelicans, who moved onto .500 for the season.

Curry concern for Warriors

Stephen Curry scored 21 points, added six rebounds and provided seven assists but hobbled out of the Golden State Warriors' 119-113 win over the Dallas Mavericks with a knee injury in the third quarter.

Curry must now await results of an MRI scan, which is set to take place on Sunday, to determine the severity of the issue.

Reigning NBA champions Golden State nevertheless got the job done without him in the final quarter, getting over the line against a Dallas side missing their star man Luka Doncic.

Draymond Green's 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists were crucial, with Spencer Dinwiddie's game-high 25 points not enough for the Mavs, who have lost seven in 11.

Nuggets tie with Celtics

The Boston Celtics lost for the fourth time in six games on Friday and the Denver Nuggets capitalised to tie level as joint-NBA leaders.

Denver beat the Atlanta Hawks 128-108, with Nikola Jokic (14 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists) claiming his 18th triple-double of the season while Jamal Murray turned on the style with his season-best tally of 41 points.

The Nuggets are now tied with the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics on 37-16 for the season and have won 19 of their last 20 home games.

The Los Angeles Lakers "hardly ever discuss" LeBron James' hunt for the NBA points record, according to coach Darvin Ham.

James scored 26 points, added seven rebounds and provided seven assists as the Lakers fought back to beat the Pacers 112-111 on Thursday.

That haul moved James onto 38,325 points across his illustrious career, 62 short of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time record.

It means James is likely to break the record against the Oklahoma City Thunder next week.

Ham, however, says the Lakers do not treat it as too big of a deal.

"I think it's an amazing feat," Lakers coach Darvin Ham told reporters.

"When it happens, kudos to Bron for all his longevity and not just longevity, but longevity at the top of the list at an elite level.

"But our day-to-day, we hardly ever discuss it unless we're asked about it. For us, it's just, how can we get our team in the best position to make a run?"

James, though, did not look to downplay the importance of the record.

"I think it's one of the greatest records in sports, in general. It's like the home run record in baseball," he said.

"It's one of those records that you don't ever see or think will be broken.

"You see guys like Hank Aaron, who had [baseball's home run record] for so long. You see guys like Sammy [Sosa] and Mark McGwire and you start climbing it and it's like, 'Oh, this could really happen.'

"It's a fun thing as a sports person. It was fun watching those guys chasing it."

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 31 points and 14 rebounds, and it was his 11-foot shot with 35 seconds left put Los Angeles ahead, before he made a crucial block from Tyrese Haliburton.

Davis missed out on selection for the All-Star Game, though that was of little concern.

"I'm here to win, to try to compete for championships, not to get into All-Star Games," Davis said.

"My wife is ecstatic. She already texted me, 'So, where we going [during All-Star break]?'"

The Los Angeles Lakers trailed by 14 early in the fourth quarter before storming back to defeat the Indiana Pacers 112-111 on the road.

Los Angeles' defense let them down early on Thursday as they gave up 35 points in the first quarter and another 32 in the second, heading into the long break trailing 67-54.

The Lakers were finally able to hold the Pacers under 30 points in a 30-29 third frame, before their defense woke up in the final period and kept the home side to just 15.

The visiting team did not claim their first lead of the game until LeBron James drained a three-pointer to jump ahead 108-106 with 2:35 remaining, but a jump shot from rookie Andrew Nembhard put the Pacers up by one with under a minute to play.

With the game on the line, Anthony Davis drained a clutch post fadeaway over elite defensive center Myles Turner to retake the lead, and although the Lakers left the door open with a pair of missed free throws from Pat Beverley, Buddy Hield's potential game-winner was off the mark thanks to Beverley's smothering defense.

It was a gutsy comeback to give the Lakers their second win in a row, led by Davis' 31 points on 13-of-27 shooting with 14 rebounds and two blocks. 

Meanwhile, James was efficient with 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting, adding seven rebounds and seven assists. He is now 62 points away from tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring mark.

For the Pacers, Tyrese Haliburton enjoyed a strong return from injury after three weeks on the sideline, leading his team in points (26) and assists (12) after being named to his first All-Star team earlier in the day.

Jokic toys with the Warriors

Reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic continued his march towards a three-peat as he dominated the Golden State Warriors in the Denver Nuggets' 134-117 triumph.

Jokic finished with 22 points on nine-of-13 shooting with 16 assists and 14 rebounds. Over his past 17 games, he has only finished with fewer than nine assists once, and no player is averaging more than his 11.9 assists over their past 15 games.

It was also another strong performance from Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, scoring 33 points on 12-of-23 shooting with eight assists and five rebounds. Over his past five outings, Murray is averaging 27.6 points and 7.2 assists.

The Nuggets sit four games clear atop the Western Conference at 36-16, while the 26-26 Warriors are ninth.

Mavericks hold on as Doncic leaves hurt

The Dallas Mavericks led the New Orleans Pelicans by 31 points during the second quarter, but ended up getting pushed all the way in a 111-106 victory.

Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic had 27 points in the first half, and made his way up to 31 early in the third period before he suffered a heel injury due to a hard fall, ending his night.

The Mavericks led by 28 when he exited the game, and from that point on the Pelicans closed the contest on a 50-27 run. They ultimately came up short after a controversial refereeing mistake in the final seconds robbed them of a chance to shoot for the tie.

It was the Pelicans' 10th loss in a row as they desperately await the return of Zion Williamson from his hamstring injury, while the Mavericks improved to fifth in the West at 28-25.

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone and his staff will take charge of LeBron James' team in this season's All-Star Game.

The game will be played in Salt Lake City on February 19, with LeBron's team taking on a side headed up by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.

A victory for the Portland Trail Blazers over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday ensured the Nuggets will top the Western Conference by the end of play on Sunday, two weeks before the game, meaning Malone's coaching staff are assured of their roles in the exhibition event.

It is the second time in his career that Malone will coach in the All-Star Game, after he oversaw a 178-164 victory for Team LeBron over Team Giannis in 2019. Joe Mazzulla, interim coach of the Boston Celtics, is to take charge of Team Giannis.

The Nuggets still have eight games to play before the All-Star break, however, starting with a clash against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, and Malone warned against any complacency.

He said: "I say it every year and I told our players this. There's some teams that are dying for the All-Star break and can't wait to go to Cancun.

"No, we are keeping our eyes on the prize and we have to make sure we play all the way to the break."

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic has been selected as a starter, though the two-time reigning NBA MVP might not be coached by Malone, who will have to wait until the day of the game to find out his full roster when James drafts his side.

LeBron James is completely relaxed about breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record NBA points total after moving another step closer during the Los Angeles Lakers' 129-123 win over the New York Knicks.

James played a starring role on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, becoming the first 38-year-old to ever record a 20-point triple-double as he finished with 28 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

Those 10 assists saw him overtake Steve Nash on the all-time leaderboard for NBA assists, with James now fourth on 10,336.

He remains 908 behind still-active Chris Paul in third, but the record that all eyes are on is overall points.

James' 28 here leaves him 88 off Abdul-Jabbar's record (38,387), meaning he is likely to surpass to his fellow Lakers great either on Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans, or three days later against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Some athletes might get nervous when approaching such a milestone, but James is utterly at ease with the situation due to it essentially being a formality.

"It's not getting heavier," James said.

"I'm going to do it. I mean, it's just a matter of time when I'm going to do it.

"It's not heavy. I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to be in this league for at least a few more years.

"I'm going to do it. It's not heavy at all."

There is also an element of anticipation from James' team-mates, with it set to be a momentous moment for everyone associated with the Lakers when he does break the record.

That is not lost on Anthony Davis.

"The team is very excited," he added. "It's probably going to be a surreal moment for all of us, but probably more so him... Obviously, whatever game it is, we want to be able to win the game."

But much of the focus around James on Tuesday related to his assists and overtaking Nash.

"It's amazing because that's just what I love to do and get my guys involved," James continued.

"Anytime you link with some of the greats – Mark Jackson played here, was drafted here by the Knicks, so it's a super cool thing. And obviously, we know when Nash was [in the league]; I played against him for many, many years. His ability to pass the ball was very uncanny."

Lakers coach Darvin Ham also paid tribute to James, saluting him for ignoring criticism about his game over the years and continuing to play true to himself.

"He's just a kid who's grown before our eyes. The last 20 years at this level, has done nothing but play the right way and make the play that's in front of him," Ham said.

"Regardless of how much he's been criticised for a while for not taking the last shots and the overpassing, he's just making the right plays. You saw that again tonight."

LeBron James collected another pair of milestones as he made history in the Los Angeles Lakers' 129-123 overtime victory against the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

Playing on the road in Madison Square Garden, James became the first 38-year-old to ever record a 20-point triple-double, finishing with 28 points on 11-of-25 shooting, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

He also came into the contest eight assists away from overtaking Steve Nash for fourth-place on the all-time assist leaderboard, with James dishing assist number 10,336 early in the fourth period. 

James is 908 assists behind the still-active Chris Paul (11,246) – which would take him another 124 games to reach at his current career average of 7.3 per game – while he is 240 games at that pace away from the second-placed Jason Kidd (12,091).

Against the Knicks, the Lakers had to pull themselves off the canvas after their six-point lead with under two minutes left evaporated, as Jalen Brunson tied the game at 114-114 with 24 seconds on the clock.

But the Lakers had the answer this time, holding the Knicks scoreless for a near three-minute stretch in the five-minute extra period to pull away.

There were extremely encouraging signs for Los Angeles in the first game sporting their new-look starting five, with Anthony Davis making his first start since December 16, and his first alongside new trade acquisition Rui Hachimura.

Davis looked back to his best with 27 points (nine-of-16 shooting), nine rebounds and two steals, while Hachimura put together an efficient 19 points (eight-of-12) with nine rebounds and strong defense on Julius Randle.

With the win, the Lakers improved their record to 24-28, and sit just three games out of the Western Conference's six seed.

Kawhi dominates the Bulls on both ends

Any concerns about Kawhi Leonard's prime passing him by have been quashed after the latest standout performance from the two-time NBA Finals MVP.

Leonard was clearly the best player on the court in the Los Angeles Clippers' 108-103 road win against the Chicago Bulls, scoring a game-high 33 points (11-of-24) while also snatching a season-high five steals with two blocks.

It was the kind of performance that has earned the 31-year-old three First Team All-NBA and three NBA All-Defensive First Team selections, and it cancelled out one of the more well-rounded games of Zach LaVine's career.

LaVine grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds for the Bulls to go with 18 points (six-of-14) and eight assists, also adding a steal and a block.

Giannis overpowers the Hornets

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo continued to build a convincing case for his third MVP during his side's 124-115 home win against the Charlotte Hornets.

Antetokounmpo led both teams with 34 points and 18 rebounds, shooting a terrific 14-of-24 from the field and a more than respectable five-of-six from the free throw line.

Despite being on the losing side, Hornets franchise player LaMelo Ball produced a head-turning stat line with 27 points (10-of-26), 11 assists, 10 rebounds, three steals and three blocks.

The Bucks own the third-best record in the league at 34-17.

The NBA referees' official Twitter account apologised for a "gut-wrenching" mistake after a decisive last-minute officiating error cost the Los Angeles Lakers against the Boston Celtics.

With the score tied at 105-105, LeBron James was smacked on his shooting arm at the rim by Jayson Tatum as the Lakers star went for glory with under five seconds remaining on the clock.

The four-time MVP and four-time NBA Finals MVP would fall short with his attempted drive before the Celtics snatched a 125-121 triumph in overtime.

James, Anthony Davis and the entire Lakers bench erupted at the last-gasp call, with Patrick Beverley issued a technical foul after bringing over a camera to referee Eric Lewis to review the decision.

Davis said Los Angeles were "cheated", while James expressed confusion at the clear error and the NBA referees took to social media to apologise on Sunday.

"Like everyone else, referees make mistakes. We made one at the end of last night's game and that is gut-wrenching for us," the official account wrote.

"This play will weigh heavily and cause sleepless nights as we strive to be the best referees we can be."

The apology may prove little consolation for James, whose 41 points on Saturday in Boston proved in vain.

Defeat saw the Lakers fall to 23-27, sitting 13th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference ahead of four road games in the coming week.

Los Angeles will look to bounce back at the Brooklyn Nets on Monday without James and Davis after the Lakers confirmed the pair would be absent on the first night of their back-to-back.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been ruled out of the Los Angeles Lakers' game at the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.

James is dealing with left ankle soreness, while Davis has a right foot stress injury, the team confirmed the day before the game.

Both men played in Saturday's overtime loss to the Boston Celtics, in which James scored 41 points.

For James, his absence in Brooklyn may well mean a historic NBA moment comes in front of a home crowd in Los Angeles.

The four-time MVP now has 38,271 career regular season points, putting him just 116 behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time record.

Averaging 30.2 points per game this season, James would only require four more games to pass Abdul-Jabbar at his current rate of scoring.

The Lakers have four games in this coming week – all on the road.

After that, the Lakers return to Staples Center on February 7 to play the Oklahoma City Thunder in a game in which James will likely be targeting the record.

The Los Angeles Lakers are furious after an obvious foul on LeBron James' potential game-winner was missed, with the Boston Celtics going on to secure a 125-121 victory in overtime.

Playing in Boston, James was spectacular with a game-high 41 points on 15-of-30 shooting, adding nine rebounds and eight assists, but the game was tied at 105-105 after Jaylen Brown's and-one with four seconds remaining.

The four-time MVP and four-time NBA Finals MVP would be the player entrusted with the last shot for the Lakers, and after driving left and getting all the way to the rim, James was smacked on his shooting arm by Jayson Tatum with under one second on the clock.

But the foul went un-whistled, with James, All-NBA team-mate Anthony Davis and the entire Lakers bench erupting in fury as the game was sent to overtime.

Los Angeles guard Patrick Beverley was issued a technical foul after bringing over a camera to the referee in an effort to show crew chief Eric Lewis the clearly botched call, and the Celtics went on to score 20 in the extra period, led by Brown with 11 of his 37 total points.

Speaking after the loss, Davis made it clear he felt cheated by the referees.

"It was bull**** at the end of the day," he said. "It’s unacceptable, and I guarantee nothing will happen to the ref. We got cheated tonight, honestly. 

"[Beverley] got all ball on Brown, [but they] called a foul. LeBron, they smack across his arm. Unacceptable, to be honest. The refs were bad – they were bad tonight."

James echoed those sentiments, saying this is not the first time this season he has felt disrespected by officials.

"You saw my reaction… it’s challenging," he said. "I don’t get it. 

"I'm attacking the paint just as much as any other guy in this league that’s shooting double-digit free throws a night. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it."

He added: "You guys seen some of the games we lost this year, with late-game missed calls. I don’t understand what we're doing. 

"I watch basketball every single day. I watch these games every single game, and I don’t see it happen to nobody else. It's just weird."

Head coach Darvin Ham joined the chorus of discontent.

"The best player on Earth can’t get a call – it’s amazing," he said. "You have to call a cat a cat, you can’t look at something and try to pretend it’s not what it is. 

"He’s a guy that tries hard to play the right way. Doesn’t flop, plays downhill, plays a strong, physical brand of basketball. 

"Just because he doesn’t flop or doesn’t flail and he’s not screaming when he’s shooting the ball like I see a ton of other players doing, he gets penalised for it.

"As much as you try not to put it on officiating, it’s becoming increasingly difficult. I don't want to see another Last 2 Minute report – they can save that. It doesn't do no one any good."

In an Instagram story, where he included a still photo of the foul, Lakers guard Dennis Schroder also voiced his frustration.

He wrote: "The refs gotta start getting fined for their mistakes! They also giving technical fouls to people who are reacting to their mistakes.

"The replay center should also use replay to get these calls right, especially on an important play like the OBVIOUS foul on LeBron at the end of the game.

"This needs to stop… to lose 3-5 games this season off of referees' mistakes is really hard."

In an uncommon occurrence, crew chief Lewis confirmed the botched call immediately after the game finished.

"There was contact," he said. "At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play."

The loss has the Lakers fall to 23-27, sitting 13th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference.

LeBron James' 41 points were not enough to prevent his Los Angeles Lakers from going down 125-121 in a controversial overtime loss on the road against the Boston Celtics.

In the latest edition of the league's most decorated rivalry, James was a man on a mission, finishing 15-of-30 from the field, six-of-12 from deep and five-of-six from the free throw line as the only Lakers player to score more than 16.

He added nine rebounds and eight assists, and he should have been awarded potential game-winning free throws after he was clearly hit on the arm while driving for a layup with under a second remaining in regulation.

But the Celtics got the call in Boston, and it would be Jaylen Brown stepping up in the extra period to deliver a win for the home fans.

Brown scored 11 of his team-high 37 points in overtime, finishing 13-of-23 from the field with nine rebounds, picking up the slack for team-mate and MVP candidate Jayson Tatum.

Tatum had a respectable stat line of 30 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals, but he shot a dismal eight-of-25 from the field, while Sixth Man of the Year contender Malcolm Brodgon chipped in a game-changing 25 points (eight-of-15), six rebounds, four assists and two steals off the bench.

For the Lakers, it was Anthony Davis' second game back after five-and-a-half weeks on the sideline dealing with a foot injury, and he came off the bench again for 16 points (six-of-15), 10 rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Celtics, and improved their league-leading record to 36-15. 

The Lakers fell to 23-27, and although they sit 13th in the Western Conference, they are only three games behind the Minnesota Timberwolves in the sixth seed.

Clippers extend winning streak to five

The Los Angeles Clippers are enjoying their longest winning streak of the season after making it five in a row with Saturday's 120-113 victory against the Atlanta Hawks.

The Clippers were led by their resurgent two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who scored a game-high 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting while adding eight rebounds and four assists.

There were fears Leonard's prime had been stolen from him by injuries after scoring a total of 50 points in his first five games of this campaign, but over his past 10 fixtures he sits eighth overall in points per game at 29.3.

Over that span he is shooting 55.6 per cent from the field, 47.2 per cent from deep and 92.5 per cent from the free throw line while adding 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game, improving the Clippers' record to 28-24.

Kyrie stays red-hot in New York showdown

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving posted his sixth consecutive game with at least 30 points and six assists to defeat the New York Knicks 122-115 at home.

Irving, who was named an All-Star starter mid-week, scored a game-high 32 points on 12-of-27 shooting with nine assists, six rebounds and two steals.

Over his past six games, his 36.3 points per game is eclipsed only by Portland Trail Blazers icon Damian Lillard (38.3), while Irving's 7.8 assists would also be a new career-high as he shoulders a massive workload in the absence of injured superstar Kevin Durant.

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