LeBron James made history on Saturday night as he became the first player in NBA history to score 40,000 career points. Coming into the game against the Denver Nuggets needing only eight points to break the 40,000 threshold, James scored his record-setting bucket in the form of a second-quarter layup. The milestone comes a little more than a year after the Los Angeles Lakers forward surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s all-time NBA scoring record of 38,387 points.


In the league for his 19th season, it took James 1,475 regular season games to reach the 40,000-point total. He is also one of only eight players in NBA history to average at least 27 points a game throughout his career, doing so in a longer career than anyone else on the list. The record does not account for playoff games, but if that were the case, James would have reached the mark much sooner than he did.

From a young age, there has been extreme pressure on James to perform at the same levels as players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Abdul-Jabbar. Therefore, the milestone he hit on Saturday is a representation of meeting those expectations and staying consistent over a long period of time.

“For the first time in a long time, I’ve seen the commercial that was played before my first game,” James said after the game. “I think they mentioned all the greats to ever play the game of basketball, like Big O and Michael and Kareem and Kobe… And then it was like, ‘The next one, LeBron James. I didn’t see that commercial when it happened, but 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.”

Though almost approaching his 40th birthday, James is still averaging more than 25 points per game, a feat he has reached every season except in his rookie campaign. He is also the highest-scoring player currently in the NBA by a large margin, with more than 10,000 additional career points than Kevin Durant, who is ninth on the all-time scoring list. The most recent player to hit the 30,000-point mark was Dirk Nowitzki, but no active player besides Durant is knocking on that threshold.

“I come to work and prepare and prep, mentally, physically, spiritually every single night when it’s time to play, and I just try to go out and contribute,” James said. “Been able to do it for 20-plus years, including this year. When I come on the floor and feel pretty good, I feel I can make plays. Still able to do the things that I was doing 10 years ago. And some things I was doing 20 years ago, which is weird to say.”

As the oldest player in the NBA, the 25.1 points per game averaged by James this year shows that he hasn’t slowed down yet. In addition, becoming the first player to reach the 40,000-point mark is a testament to his consistency and longevity. When Abdul-Jabbar set the scoring record in 1989, it was as if he was finishing his career, but James did it while still the leader of the team. Though he isn’t the same player he was 10 years ago, James is one of the most impactful players in the league, and doing so while breaking records that were previously thought of as untouchable.

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