FOX Sports NBA Reporter
LeBron James lifted one foot at a time in an ice bucket in the Los Angeles Lakers locker room, groaning loudly with each effort.
“Now I can relax,” he told his longtime coach, Mike Mancias.
With James’ place in history secured as the new all-time scoring leader, he was finally able to exhale.
For the next few minutes, James’ sons Bronny, 18, and Bryce, 15, chatted with their father in the dressing room, providing an extremely unusual peak behind the curtain.
“Which one of you will try to beat my record?” James asked his children.
“That’ll be two and three,” Bronny joked.
Bronny then showed his dad a video of the moment James made the jumper with 10.9 seconds left in the third quarter to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 career points and the record he held for most 38 years old
As they watched the clip, they both laughed heartily, apparently knowing what they dubbed “The fade” would happen.
“Did you save it?” James asked Bronny about the video.
It’s funny because James recently said he had no idea how he would feel when the time came.
He was focused on winning. All the chatter about the record had apparently become a distraction for a superstar who was laser-focused on lifting his team off the bottom of the Western Conference.
But just as James never thought he would break that record, he never could have predicted how he would react after it happened.
“I can probably count on my hands the number of times I’ve cried in 20 years, whether it’s happiness or defeat,” James said after finishing with 38 points in the Lakers’ 133-130 loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday at Crypto .how. arena “So, that moment was one of them where I cried a little bit. It was an ‘I can’t believe what’s happening’ tear.”
The moment James made history, he threw his hands in the air and ran down.
Then the game stopped.
James hugged his mother, wife and three children mid-court. He exchanged long hugs with some of his closest family and friends, including his business partner, Maverick Carter. Dozens of cameras surrounded them.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver then addressed the crowd, introducing James as the all-time scoring leader. James doubled over while standing next to Abdul-Jabbar. He then hugged Abdul-Jabbar, as he broke into a raucous MVP chant.
Through tears, James took the microphone. He wiped his eyes. He bowed his head.
“Please give the captain a standing ovation, please,” he said, also thanking his family and supporters in his minute-long speech.
Afterwards, congratulatory videos were played on the jumbotron featuring James’ wife Savannah, their three children and President Joe Biden.
James said he tried to stay in the moment throughout, but described the historic shot and insurance celebration as a “blur” and “surreal.”
“I write ‘man in the arena’ on my shoe every Theodore Roosevelt night,” James said. “Tonight, I really felt like I was sitting on top of the arena tonight when the gunshot and the roar of the crowd came in. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get that feeling again, unless it’s a game winner. Final shot.”
The whole night was a spectacle.
The sense of anticipation in the air was thick from the start.
James entered Tuesday’s game just 36 points shy of the record. Two video boards showed how many points he needed to surpass Abdul-Jabbar’s point total, and when he reached 10 points, he turned red.
At the top of the night, the crowd cheered every time James touched the ball. When he cut the chase to two points, the sold-out crowd of nearly 19,000 fans rose to their feet. And when James made the shot that made history, the cheers rose to deafening heights.
A who’s who of celebrities watched, including Denzel Washington and Jay-Z. More than 220 members of the media were credited. James was miked throughout the game.
After the game ended, James admitted he knew he wanted to break the record on Tuesday.
“Well, yeah, because my boys are leaving on a red eye tomorrow night,” James said, jokingly adding that he would have had to spend more money on a hotel room if his friends had to stay in town until the next Lakers game. Thursday.
“No, but tomorrow’s not promised. What if I had the chance to do it tonight, and I’d try to make it happen. And he was still very efficient. He wasn’t out there just shooting.”
Amid a tumultuous season in which the Lakers sit 13th in the Western Conference, Lakers governor Jeanie Buss smiled Tuesday.
“For people my age who remember when Kareem broke the record back then, Chick Hearn famously said, ‘A record that will never be broken,’ because we couldn’t imagine a player like LeBron,” Buss told FOX Sports.
He knew his father, Dr. Jerry Buss, owner of the Lakers from 1979 to 2013, would have liked to witness the moment.
“My dad was always about growing the game, growing the game and the NBA and what LeBron has done for our sport, our league, the Lakers, that’s exactly what Dr. Buss would like to see ” Buss told FOX Sports. “It’s not just important to Lakers fans, it’s important to fans around the world. It’s a moment we celebrate. It feels a little like Christmas or a championship game. It’s a very special night.”
After the game, James spoke to the media for 20 minutes. When asked if reaching the all-time scoring record makes him the greatest player of all time, James said that’s a debate that will go on forever in barbershops.
Then he added his take.
“If I was the general manager or whatever the case was of a franchise that was starting, and I had the number one pick, I’d take it,” he said. “But it’s me because I believe in myself, in what I bring to the table, a guy who has been able to transform his game over the course of 20 years, to be able to play any position in this league, excel at any position. I can play 1-5. I led the league in assists. I was able to do what this game wanted me to do and I was able to transform my game as well.”
When James left the interview room, his childhood friends were waiting for him, along with his agent Rich Paul and Carter.
James smiled and hugged them all. He laughed. He prepared to drink wine and celebrate with them.
“I won’t sleep tonight,” he said as he left, having once again made history.
Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.
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