Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots and scores over San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (14) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, in San Antonio. The score allowed James to reach the 30,000 milestone for his career. (AP Photo)
Los Angeles, January 24 (AFP): LeBron James made NBA history on Tuesday, hitting the final shot of the first quarter to become the youngest player ever to reach the 30,000 career points milestone.
The Cleveland Cavaliers superstar James, who turned 33 on December 30, surpassed Kobe Bryant as the youngest to hit the regular season mark. Bryant was 34 years and 104 days old when he reached it.
James delivered by nailing a step back jump shot against the San Antonio Spurs with 1.1 seconds remaining in the first for his eighth point of the contest and 30,001 overall.
“The moment was unbelievable,” said James. “The journey is something I have been on for quite awhile now and I would never take that for granted.”
James finished with 28 points on 10-of-23 shooting from the field in the Cavaliers’ 114-102 loss to San Antonio, boosting his total to 30,021.
James came into the game needing just seven to scale the height only six others have achieved so far. He joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points), Karl Malone (36,928), Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) and Dirk Nowitzki (30,808) on the select list of high scorers.
“Congrats #KingJames. Welcome to the club!!!” Nowitzki wrote on Twitter.
James opened his scoring night with a drive and a left-handed layup with 7:19 left in the first quarter. He added two more points on a finger roll layup with just over four minutes left. He got to within one point of the mark with 64 seconds to go with his first successful jump shot of the game.
“Congratulations to LeBron on reaching 30,000 points – yet another milestone in an extraordinary career that continues to inspire,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
There was a very good chance history would be made on Tuesday at the Spurs AT&T Center arena as James came into the game averaging 26.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game this season.
James attempted to do it at home on Saturday, but finished with just 18 points on eight of 17 shooting in a 148-124 blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
– Young King –
Prior to Tuesday’s game, a confident James took to Instagram to congratulate himself. “The House you are about to be apart of has only 6 seats in it …. Congrats again Young King,” he wrote.
James started out as a high school phenom who grew up to play for his hometown Cavaliers’ team, then the villain who left for Florida and eventually to the favourite son who returned home.
He was drafted first overall by Cleveland in 2003 and in February 2008 he became the youngest player to score 10,000 points.
Five years after James played in his first all-star game in 2005, he made “The Decision” to take his talents to South Beach to play for the Miami Heat.
The move paid off with his first NBA title in June 2012, when the Heat beat Oklahoma City in five games.
After consistent success in Miami, James announced on July 2014 he was returning to Cleveland and two years later he delivered a championship, ending the city’s 52-year title drought.
James could now make a run at the league’s all-time scoring record — Kareem’s career total of 38,387 points.
But before that, there are more milestones to collect. Coming into Tuesday’s game, James led the NBA in field goals made this season (463) and over his career, he has made 10,886 field goals which is 19 away from surpassing Nowitzki (10,904) for eighth all-time in league history.