The sad backdrop to LeBron James’ historic greatness

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If all goes as expected, LeBron James is a week, maybe a shade away, from breaking one of basketball’s Holy Grail records.

It is a worthy and remarkable pursuit. The difficulty level is off the charts. Topping Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career point total of 38,387 has required not only historic excellence, but outrageous longevity.

In a game that has evolved so much over the years, it seems impossible to break one of these glass ceilings. In most cases, it is. Records are made to be broken, you say? In professional circles they stand tall and proud, and possibly to infinity.

Wilt Chamberlain’s rebound mark, which will never be topped unless basketball switches to a 10-second shot clock or reduces the size of the court by 50 percent.

John Stockton’s steals and assists records? Forget about it. It doesn’t happen. Even the most skilled modern day stealers and helpers would have to repeat their best season in about 30 years to surpass the Utah Jazz legend.

Blocks? No. Rudy Gobert is the preeminent scorer today, but he won’t hold up to Hakeem Olajuwon’s career numbers, not with as many shots coming from beyond the 3-point arc.

By default, then, what James is about to achieve is incredible and there are many strands to it, each of them remarkable. And yet, for all the pieces, not least the chilling reality that he’s scoring 30 points a night at age 38, it’s impossible to get away from a gnawing thought.

That even with the story and the glitz and the numerical weight, this is somehow a sad and strange quest.

Skip Says LeBron’s Recent Scoring Streak Is ‘Impossible, All-Time Great’

Skip talks about LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Because instead of taking place in a proper arena, not necessarily a title bid, but at least an effort in which his Los Angeles Lakers were somewhat competitive, this is shaping up to be another lost campaign in Tinseltown.

The Lakers are 23-28, good enough for just 13th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference, unsure of Anthony Davis’ fitness, weighed down by Russell Westbrook’s huge contract, affected by both the number of their future choices as with restrictions on what they can do with them, and they depend on James for, uh, everything.

James sat out Monday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets and was scheduled to be evaluated (foot soreness) on Tuesday before the Lakers’ matchup at Madison Square Garden with the New York Knicks, where it appeared he could end up as a free agent.

Every once in a while, the Lakers look like a decent team. They played hard and well in a nationally televised visit to Boston last weekend, which sparked some controversy when James was fouled by Jayson Tatum on a potential game-winning layup, but there was no call.

James’ reaction was impressively theatrical, his team-mate Patrick Beverley hilariously grabbing a courtside photographer’s camera to show the officials his madness and getting a tech for it. And, in the end, the Lakers lost again, in overtime.

LeBron and Lakers yell at NBA refs after missed call

LeBron and Lakers yell at NBA refs after missed call

LeBron James was up in arms, and Skip and Shannon react.

James still cares about winning and losing and made that clear in the comments a few weeks ago.

“I’m a winner and I want to win,” he told reporters. “I want to win and give myself a chance to win and still compete for championships. That’s always been my passion. To play basketball at this level just to play basketball is not in my DNA.”

He looks frustrated. All things being equal, he probably didn’t imagine his time in Los Angeles would be so unproductive since winning the title in the 2020 Orlando bubble.

The Lakers have made too many false moves since then to be a title challenger. The current group is not a deep squad. Nor, the truth, a particularly functional one. The team added Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards last week, which wasn’t a bad move. Nor is it the type of trade to transform a team’s fortunes.

[Trade grades: How did Lakers do in Hachimura deal?]

Two decades from now, it won’t matter. People will look at James’ career scoring numbers, they’ll be shocked, and the context will be long gone.

But it seems to matter now. It is the last such record to be broken for a long time. Luka Doncic is the only current player who could have a play, and he has said he plans to have his feet up on a farm in Slovenia long before he’s old enough to do so.

It’s an absurd number if you think about it. Trae Young scored a league-high 2,155 points last season. James is 38,271 years old. Try to understand how well, for how long, this requires.

The disc will arrive, soon. Maybe, and that would be great, on a proper night, like the Feb. 9 home game against fellow All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo. They will stop the game for it. There will be a celebration. Handshakes, hugs and applause everywhere.

And then what? Just getting back into the groove, we suppose, as another Lakers season rolls on, buoyed thus far by one player and his conflicted pursuit of history.

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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