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LeBron James close to passing Kobe Bryant on NBA points list

Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Karl Malone are one and two on the list

Tuesday 21 January 2020 16:23, UK

LeBron James encourages his team-mates during the Lakers' loss to the Pacers
Image: LeBron James will soon pass Kobe Bryant on the NBA all-time scoring list

LeBron James is close to passing Kobe Bryant on the all-time NBA points list.

The LA Lakers forward is currently fourth on the league's all-time scoring list but, after scoring 15 points in Monday's defeat to the Boston Celtics, is only 65 points behind Bryant in third.

Kobe Bryant soars for a dunk
Image: LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is currently third all-time

Bryant, who won five NBA titles playing for the Lakers, retired in 2016 with a total of 33,643 points. Only former Utah Jazz power forward Karl Malone (36,928) and another Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabaar (38,387) scored more.

LeBron, currently on 33,587 points, could pass the mark before the end of this week with games at the New York Knicks (Thur), Brooklyn Nets (Fri) and Philadelphia 76ers (Sun).

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Kobe, like Michael Jordan (5th all-time) before him was a famously ruthless competitor, so how would he react to LeBron going above him on the points list?

"It's great," Bryant said to The Athletic. "I think it's great for him. I mean, the amount of work he's put in over his career, consistency, I think it's awesome."

Malone (R) and Jordan (L) are second and fifth on the all-time list respectively
Image: Malone (R) and Jordan (L) are second and fifth on the all-time list respectively

In 2014,when Bryant passed Michael Jordan (still widely accepted as the GOAT) and moved into third on the list, Jordan texted Kobe to congratulate him. "That was the most important thing," said Bryant.

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"That was cool. Because it's such a brotherhood, such an amount of respect between us as players, and you know the amount of work and consistency you have to put in over time so it's nothing but love and respect."

So, can LeBron catch the top two? At his current scoring rate of 25.5 points per game he could pass Malone sometime in the 2021-22 season, and would need another 60 or so games to pass Abdul-Jabbar, at which point he would be 38.

Kareem Abdul-Jabaar's 38,387 points has appeared untouchable for years. Could LeBron pass him?
Image: Kareem Abdul-Jabaar's 38,387 points has appeared untouchable for years. Could LeBron pass him?

Carmelo Anthony (18th on the list) was in the same draft class as James in 2003, so what does he think about his friend's pursuit of the record? "Nobody thought that could be touched," Anthony said, "but he's right there, so…

"I don't know how much longer he wants to play, but that's up to him. If that's in his mirror, I'm sure he will try to achieve that."