NBA all time scoring list: who is top points scorer, where does LeBron James rank among leading point scorers?

LeBron James has further cemented his legacy as an NBA icon. (Graphic by Kim Mogg)LeBron James has further cemented his legacy as an NBA icon. (Graphic by Kim Mogg)
LeBron James has further cemented his legacy as an NBA icon. (Graphic by Kim Mogg) | Kim Mogg National World
LeBron James hit a total of 38 points against Oklahoma City Thunder to surpass Karem Abdul-Jabbar’s point record

LeBron James has further cemented his status as an NBA great by becoming the all-time leading points scorer in history.

The Los Angeles star did so by hitting a total 38 points for his team in a tightly fought 133-130 defeat against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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James now has a total of 38,390 career points in the NBA - surpassing a 39-year record previously set by Kareem Abdul Jabbar in April 1984.

This is everything you need to know about the highest scorers in NBA history, and how LeBron James became the association’s all-time top scorer.

Who are the top five scorers in NBA history?

A number of players have graced the NBA court during the competition’s history, with the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone included the top five points scorers.

As of 8 February 2023, these are the top five scorers in NBA history and the amount of points they scored:

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NBA all-time top scorers list. (graphic by Kim Mogg)NBA all-time top scorers list. (graphic by Kim Mogg)
NBA all-time top scorers list. (graphic by Kim Mogg) | Kim Mogg National World

How LeBron James became the all-time top scorer in NBA history

LeBron James, who currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, is now the highest points scorer of all-time with a current career total of 38,390.

The 38-year old made his debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003, since that time he has been the NBA champion four times, he has made the NBA All-Star team on 18 occasions and he has also been voted the NBA’s most valuable player in four separate seasons.

Alongside Abdul-Jabbar, James is also widely considered to be one of the all-time greats in the world of basketball.

James is currently in his 20th season, the same number Abdul- Jabbar played in his career.

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Who is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

Karem Abdul-Jabbar is the second highest points scorer in NBA history.

The basketball player enjoyed an incredible career which spanned from 1969 until 1989, scoring a staggering 38,387 points over the course of his 20 year reign.

Abdul-Jabbar had sat at the top of the all time top scorers list for a total of 39 years after breaking the record on 5 April 1984. Abdul- Jabbar broke the mark previously held by Wilt Chamberlain around eight months before LeBron James was even born.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is viewed as one of the greatest players in NBA history. (Getty Images)Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is viewed as one of the greatest players in NBA history. (Getty Images)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is viewed as one of the greatest players in NBA history. (Getty Images) | Getty Images for Turner Sports

The 7ft 2 centre enjoyed a career which saw him play for the Milwaukee Bucks from 1969 until 1975 and Los Angeles Lakers from 1975 until 1989. Abdul-Jabbar was named an NBA champion on six occasions, and also chosen as MVP on six occasions.

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Many experts regard him as one of the greatest players of all time, with even the NBA site itself stating: “Simply put, no other player in hoops history achieved as much individual and team success as did Abdul-Jabbar.”

Abdul-Jabbar retired from the sport in 1989 at the age of 42, with an incredible legacy under his belt.

How did LeBron James react to breaking the record?

Heading into the game James needed 36 points to break the all-time record and he did so with a fadeaway jumper at the end of the third quarter.

James was visibly emotional after breaking the record and he raised both arms in celebration, while former record holder Abdul-Jabbar,75, stood and applauded.

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There was a brief break in play to mark the achievement and James made a speech on the court. He said: “Everybody that has ever been a part of this run with me the last 20-plus years, I want to say thank you so much because I wouldn’t be me without you all. You all helped. Your passion and sacrifices helped me to get to this point.

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