Love or hate LeBron James, this record isn’t up for debate

It doesn’t matter if you love the Los Angeles Lakers or hate them so much that the yellow makes you scream and the purple makes you puke.

It doesn’t matter if you love LeBron James with a star-crossed fervor or love to hate him, because that’s part of sports fandom, too.

Tuesday night wasn’t all about that sort of thing. It was an occasion as much as a game, although on the periphery, it was actually a very good game, certainly considering the Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder’s respective rankings.

No, it was a time to marvel at the weight of numbers and all they represent. With every point he scored, James made Arena scream louder and louder for the pull of destiny. With every shot he missed it was a reminder that scoring points in the NBA is no simple proposition, let alone 38,388 of them.

That’s the mark James reached with 10.9 seconds left in the third quarter to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time career scoring list while the former record sat on the court, the ‘man that everyone looked at when he wasn’t looking. James, even with a who’s who of celebrities filling the expensive seats.

It is and will remain an extraordinary and possibly unbreakable piece of history, one that, truth be told, he deserves more than the Lakers season in which it took place, with the pursuit of posterity overshadowing months of consistently dismal performance. Even Tuesday’s hit came in a loss to a likely lottery team.

But there has been no inconsistency from James. He has been hungry and remorseless, averaging 30 a game in the campaign, even amid competitive frustration. It’s possible to make holes in anything, but it’s also good to know when not to, because if we like sports we should also recognize those who dedicate their lives to trying to perfect them.

Give the man his due. It has never stopped and rarely slowed down. He has not always found winning situations, but he has always looked for them. He has won titles for three franchises and amassed a collection of four rings. He probably won’t match Michael Jordan’s six titles, but he sure would achieve that stat, and it was clear from the moment he walked into the building on Tuesday that this was the night he had determined to do it.

There is no “yes but”. You don’t get anywhere near 1,000 points in this league, let alone all those multiples of that number. It doesn’t matter if you feel the decision was mishandled, or if there was too much bomb at times, or if the COVID Championship was weird, or if James made it all about him at times.

Right now it’s for applause, because that’s what you do when people challenge what we think is doable, like Michael Phelps did, and Serena Williams, and Tom Brady, and all those who took conventional logic and they laughed at this.

You can’t argue with what it took, the outrageously difficult combination of things. Entering the league right out of high school, starting to star at the age his oldest son Bronny is now. To be the best and most prolific in the league, not for a little, not a lot, not most of his career, but for all of it.

To stay healthy for so long. And, without a doubt, the most resounding of all, to reach the ultimate Everest of a scoreable peak as something other than a pure scorer.

It won’t be forever. There’s still some way to go, so we’re not about to say enjoy James while it lasts. To be honest, there have been points this season where the Lakers have not been pleasant to watch, not by a long shot.

This was different. The team can’t defend well, but there was a strong effort, capped by Anthony Davis diving to the bench to save a ball that would soon lead to James passing to Abdul-Jabbar.

And then it happened, a missing jumper who will live forever. The game stopped, because records like this are desperately rare. His family arrived on the court, Kareem moved to the center circle, commissioner Adam Silver gave a speech and a montage played.

Time didn’t stand still, because it never does, it just feels that way sometimes. It moves forward, faster than we realize, which is how history is made, not all at once, but little by little, in this case basket by basket.

This is how the impossible becomes possible, and nights like this become celebrations.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX i subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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