What LeBron Did Last Night Is Hard to Fathom

NBA star became the only player to reach 40K points, a mark unlikely to be matched
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 3, 2024 6:34 AM CST

It was an otherwise ho-hum layup. But when Lebron James hit it with 10:39 left in the second quarter Saturday night, he became the first player in NBA history to reach 40,000 points.

  • "Being the first player to do something, it's pretty cool in this league, just knowing the history," James said after the game, per the AP. "But for me, the main thing, as always, is to win, and I hated that it had to happen in a defeat." (The Lakers lost to the Nuggets, 124-114.)

  • Longevity: James did it in his 21st season—1,475 regular-season games in which he reached double-digit points in each of the last 1,205 of them. He has largely avoided major injuries in that time, while also playing another three-plus seasons worth of games in the playoffs en route to four titles. All with unfathomable pressure placed on him to be the next transcendent player before ever stepping on the court as a professional.
  • That commercial: "For the first time in a long time, I've seen the commercial that was played before my first game," James said. "I think they mentioned all the greats to ever play the game of basketball ... and then it was like, 'the next one, LeBron James.' ... When I was watching it today, I was like what the hell? That expectation on an 18-year-old kid like that, that was insane to think about."
  • Never again? James' combination of longevity and sustained excellence is what makes it entirely likely he could be the only player to ever reach 40,000. Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic seems like the most reasonable candidate to make a serious push, as his career average of 28.51 points per game is third in league history behind Michael Jordan (30.12) and Wilt Chamberlain (30.07). But Doncic will need to keep it up for 1,022 more games to match James, a timeline pushing into the 2036-37 season.
(More LeBron James stories.)

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