Your New NBA Scoring Leader, LeBron James 


“LeBron James New York City More Than a Game (By David Shankbone” is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

On February 7th, 2023, a record that had been standing for nearly 39 years was broken by none other than LeBron James. The talk in the NBA had been nothing but LeBron breaking the record in the months leading up to his finally accomplishing it. After constant weeks, months, years of hard work, all leading up to that moment for LeBron, he finally did it. Out of all the accomplishments and accolades LeBron has worked to get in his career, this may be looked at as the most impressive. Twenty years of hard work and dedication and it finally paid off. Retirement is inevitable, however, and it is around the corner for LeBron, but before those discussions can come, we must reflect on this astounding career that got started all the way back in 2003.

“Lebron James shooting free throw” (By ben_lei is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

The Chosen One

On June 26th, 2003, a five-star recruit named LeBron James from Akron, Ohio was drafted straight out of high school. LeBron was given the nickname “The Chosen One” in high school. At such a young age, these expectations may feel like too much pressure on a kid. A lot of people predicted that he wouldn’t pan out in the NBA. Little did they know this kid would go on to become one of the greatest athletes that we’ve ever seen. LeBron came out of the gates storming in his first four NBA seasons. LeBron made the second round in his third season and even a finals appearance in his fourth season. It looked like instant success was on the way with him reaching the finals in just his fourth season. However, the next four years were rough for LeBron. He lost in the second round in 2008 vs the Celtics, lost in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009 to the Magic, and lost in 2010 against the Celtics once again in the second round.

This sparked something in LeBron, which was a decision that he had to make.  He made the announcement that he was headed to Miami to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Heat. This team was stacked, with three All-NBA players and it looked like they were well on their way to a championship until they lost to the heavily unfavored Dallas Mavericks. This was the rough point of LeBron’s career, as he had been in the league 8 years now and still hadn’t won anything. This ended up being the turning point of 26 year-old LeBron’s career.

“LeBron James” (By jurvetson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

It’s About D**n Time

LeBron finally got over the championship hump in 2012 when he and the Miami Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. His infamous quote, “It’s About D**m Time”, really made it feel like he was proud of his accomplishment. LeBron had finally done it, and he put the NBA on notice. This feeling really sparked something in LeBron, as it was his first championship.

He wanted more though, and he did in fact win again the next year against the Spurs. This win was much more fought out, however. It took back-to-back seven-game series’ in the playoffs for the Heat to win another ring. They beat the Indiana Pacers in seven games to advance to the finals. They went head-to-head with the Spurs in the Finals and he was down 3-2. In Game 6, the Heat faced a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter, but LeBron’s 16 fourth quarter points led the spark. Ray Allen then hit one of the most clutch shots in NBA history, as he tied the game with a corner 3, only having 5 seconds left in the game. The game went into overtime and the heat ended up taking it. That momentum led them to win Game 7. Things could not have looked better at this point in LeBron’s career, as he was coming off back-to-back championships, back-to-back MVPs, and back-to-back Finals MVPs.

Everything was running smoothly, and it looked like they could be on track to win their third straight title, until they ran into the San Antonio Spurs again. They were defeated by the Spurs in five games, even though LeBron did all he could. LeBron quickly realized that with an aging Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, he couldn’t compete anymore. This is when LeBron decided it was time to go back home.

“LeBron James” (Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA is licensed under CC BY- SA 2.0.)

Cleveland, This is for You

In the 2014 NBA offseason, LeBron returned home to Cleveland and promised that he would get them a ring. It got off to a rough start, as joining Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love took some gelling, but they would eventually figure it out. The Cavaliers caught their stride towards the end of the 2014-15 season, heading into the playoffs. Everything looked great, even too good for the new look Cavaliers. However, with every triumph comes a struggle, as Kevin Love would get injured in the first round of the playoffs that year. Love went on to miss the rest of the playoffs, so the pressure was bestowed upon LeBron and Kyrie. They brought the Cavaliers to the Finals, but in the first game of the Finals, Irving would suffer an injury that kept him out of the rest of the Finals. LeBron’s 36.3 points per game in the Finals wasn’t enough, as the shorthanded Cavaliers would fall to the dominant Golden State Warriors in six games.

The next season was different, however. The Cavaliers would finish as the first seed in the 2015-16 season. Everyone figured it would be an easy path through the Eastern Conference for the Cavaliers, and it was, as they only lost 2 games in three rounds versus the East. Most, however, suspected that they would lose in the Finals, which looked like the case through 4 games. Things changed in the final three games, as LeBron and Kyrie had a legacy-altering three-game stretch. The Cavaliers won three straight games to complete one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. No other NBA team has accomplished a 3-1 comeback in the Finals. LeBron led this astonishing comeback, and it was a career-altering moment. This feels like the moment for LeBron that everyone will look back on when discussing his greatness.

The 2016-17 season was a different beast for the Cavaliers. They got many new pieces and thought it would work. While the team improved, so did the Warriors, who, coming off of a record-breaking 73 wins, added one of the best players in the NBA, Kevin Durant. Every NBA fan thought this was unfair, and it was. The Cavaliers, who only lost one game in three rounds to the Eastern Conference in that year’s playoffs, got beat in five games by the new-look Warriors. It took 94 combined points from LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin Love just to get one win in the 2017 Finals.

All hope was drained in the 2017 offseason, because Kyrie Irving was traded. However, LeBron could’ve just rolled over and died, but instead, he had one of the greatest regular seasons and playoff runs of all time. He carried the Cavaliers to the Finals with all-time playoff performances. But it meant nothing, as the Warriors swept the Cavaliers in the 2018 Finals. Everyone knew this was LeBron’s last season as a member of the Cavaliers, but the question was, where would he end up?

“LeBron James – 51959723161” (By Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0.) (Erik Drost)


Here we are, in the 2018 offseason, and LeBron has chosen the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron, without an all-star teammate, was surprisingly keeping this Lakers team in the mix, as they were the fourth seed before he went out with an injury that felt season-ending. He still played 57 games that year, but once they lost LeBron, they were terrible, and they threw away their season for a good draft pick. They traded that draft pick and nearly every good asset to the Pelicans for superstar, Anthony Davis. The Lakers had a great season next year, and were rolling, until March, when the world shut down, due to COVID. It looked like the season would get canceled, or just delayed for a really long time. It did end up getting delayed but continued. People continuously doubted the Lakers and thought a couple of other teams would easily beat them, but that was not the case. The Lakers dominated their way through the playoffs, only losing five games. LeBron was finally able to attain his fourth championship, and his first and only as a member of the Lakers. Since then, he was bounced out of the first round, and he’s missed the playoffs. The Lakers are currently sitting at the 13 seed this season, but they are still in the race.

Appreciate Greatness

“LeBron James Jump Shot” (by jrg1975 – licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

Who knows what else is in store for LeBron’s already historic career? As time progresses, GOAT debate discussions will only increase in intensity. LeBron still has a good 3-4 years left in him, so anything could happen. One thing that’s for sure, though, is that NBA fans should learn to appreciate greatness, instead of having debates. Debates are good but can get out of hand. However, no matter where your stance is on the GOAT debate, know that LeBron is one of the few that truly represents the league’s greatness, and becoming the new scoring leader furthers that truth.