NBA Roundtable: What will scoring record mean for LeBron’s legacy?

LeBron James is about to make NBA history.

James is just 63 points away from passing Kareem Abdul-Jabar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. With James likely to break the record in the coming days, our panel of NBA reporters, Ric Bucher, The Weitzman boy i Melissa Rohlin — see what breaking the record will mean for James’ legacy.

1. What is the most impressive achievement of LeBron James’ career? Will it be the all-time goalscoring record or something else?

Bucher: The all-time scoring title is clouded by the fact that the rules have changed so much to favor the offense, and the 3-point shot wasn’t what it is now when Kareem and everyone else in the top 10 played. His signature achievement, as I see it, was winning a championship in Cleveland, something that just doesn’t happen in this city in any sport. I’d say winning championships with three different franchises is next. His most impressive achievement is going to 10 NBA Finals, including eight in a row. He couldn’t have done it if he had stayed in one place, but his ability to maneuver his way from Cleveland to Miami and back again, and convince management to put what he needed around him, well, i don’t see anyone another in the modern game who could have done all that.

Weitzman: To me, the scoring record is more the result of what LeBron’s greatest achievement is, and what I think he should be – and will be – best known for: his longevity. What he is doing, at the age of 38, and in his 20th year, and with all these kilometers in his legs, is ridiculous. He’s playing at an MVP level, and if the talent around him wasn’t so poor, he’d be in that MVP conversation.

Rohlin: Well, according to James himself, it was when he brought the Cavaliers back from a 3-1 series deficit during the 2016 NBA Finals to beat the Golden State Warriors, becoming the only team in the history of the league coming back from that kind of hole. in the championship round. After this incredible achievement, James said during an episode of ESPN More than an athlete: “That one right there made me the greatest player of all time.”

2. James has often been defined as a distributor rather than a scorer. Where do you stand with this suggestion now that he will become the league’s all-time leading scorer? is it accurate

Bucher: It just shows how his game has changed. Early in his career, he was much more gifted as a passer than a shooter and more comfortable setting someone up for a shot, especially with the line game, than taking the ball and telling everyone to move away of the road Part of that is because he played on the perimeter and wasn’t consistently the biggest player on the court. Looks like teams doubled him more back then too. Now that he’s operating more outside the mid-post, has developed a solid mid-range jumper and teams are defending him with smaller players, he’s been looking for his shot more than ever. The stats prove it: He’s averaging 22.7 field goal attempts per 36 minutes, eclipsing his previous high of 21.1 set last season.

Weitzman: I don’t really think this is a binary thing. Like, he can be a high scorer without being a KOBE style gunner! The idea that LeBron isn’t a scorer is silly. This is a guy who, in his second year in the NBA, averaged 27.2 points per game. But because he has such a brilliant basketball mind, he’s always understood that shooting isn’t the only option. Double him or over-help, and he’s more than happy to flick a cross to a shooter in the far corner. But don’t mistake that for not being a “scorer.” Just score efficiently. This is the difference.

Rohlin: LeBron is one of the top scorers in the game. What sets him apart from most players is that he values ​​the game equally. While most players see scoring as the ultimate success, James has always preferred to make the smart play, something he was heavily criticized for, especially early in his career. LeBron can score whenever he wants. He has made it very clear. When he’s flying downhill, no one wants to get in his way. Has a strong mid-range jumper, and can score from beyond the arc. But his game is so, so much more than that.

3. In your opinion, is the all-time scoring record the most distinguished record in basketball? In all professional sports?

Bucher: No. All-time records are longevity awards. Let’s be honest: We didn’t have these conversations or debates until it became clear that LeBron was going to break it. I don’t know if there is a statistical record that I would consider the most distinguished accolade in sports. I would probably say league or finals MVP awards or NBA first team selections, because they take into account a player’s winning and overall ability. A player’s scoring average can be influenced by a half-dozen variables, including the offense his team runs, his position, and how his team is constructed. The NBA or MVP awards are based on who was the best in that particular year, with no rankings.

Weitzman: Certainly not in all professional sports. I don’t see how you can say that when, going into this season, I bet if you polled a bunch of basketball fans and asked who they thought was the NBA’s all-time scoring leader, they would have answered Michael Jordan. In terms of basketball, it’s up there, but I still think the nature of the sport is one where individual records don’t carry as much weight as they do in, say, baseball. What makes basketball unique is that it is a team game but one individual can control all the action. So for me, I’ll always look at things like titles and MVPs. That said, the points record is probably the answer.

LeBron James: 89 points to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most all-time

LeBron James: 89 points to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most all-time

“Undisputed” talks about when LeBron James will break the NBA’s all-time scoring record.

Rohlin: Let’s not let it slip: it’s an incredible achievement. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar held the record for over 38 years. It was considered unbreakable. That’s a testament to James playing at an incredibly high level for 20 seasons, which, perhaps on its own, is more impressive than all the other subjective awards out there, like MVP. We could argue until our faces turn blue who is the GOAT. But becoming the league’s all-time leading scorer means three things: James was available, consistent and outstanding, year after year, decade after decade.

4. How much will surpassing the scoring record strengthen James’ claim as the greatest player in NBA history?

Bucher: I don’t think it’s a factor at all. Nor should it be. Kobe scored more than Michael; has anyone ever put kobe over michael? No. Does the all-time assist title make John Stockton one of the greatest players of all time? Heck, he hasn’t even earned recognition as the best passer or point guard. Were we talking about Kareem as the greatest player in NBA history? I had him in the conversation, but it was less about the scoring title and more about winning five titles, winning six league MVP awards and being the best center in the game for 16 years. I’ll say it again: all-time records are longevity awards. Longevity does not equate to the greatest, but to the longest lasting. Those who think LeBron James is the GOAT already proclaimed it. Those who don’t think he’ll ever come close to Michael Jordan aren’t about to be changed by anything James does statistically at this stage of his career. I am one of them.

Weitzman: It just solidifies the most impressive part of his resume, and the thing about MJ, which is longevity. He’ll never catch MJ on rings, and it’s hard to argue in favor of LeBron over MJ if you’re talking about who, at the height of his powers, was the best. But if you want to look at their respective careers as a whole, well, the points record is definitely a nice notch on LeBron’s belt.

Rohlin: That record doesn’t necessarily make James the greatest player of all time. But it does mean that he has had the greatest career of all time, considering all of his other accomplishments. To be so big, for so long, is amazing. And at 38, he hasn’t even shown signs of slowing down. James has taken care of his body, kept his mind sharp, and continually made adjustments to his game to outperform his competitors. No other player in league history has done it as well as James. And this record helps make that argument firm.

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