Can LeBron James catch Kareem?

It's possible but not likely for James to be all-time scoring leader

Updated: January 16, 2013, 2:40 PM ET
By Tom Haberstroh | ESPN Insider
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar/Lebron JamesNBAE/Getty ImagesCan LeBron James catch Kareem Abdul Jabbar's all-time scoring record?

Oddly enough, LeBron James is on the brink of not one, but two career milestones ahead of Wednesday night's matchup against the Golden State Warriors.

He is 18 points away from scoring 20,000 points for his career and two assists shy of the 5,000-assist threshold.

Even though the assist total might be more impressive, let's tackle the scoring feat. If he scores at least 18 points, James will become the youngest player ever to reach 20,000 points at age 28 and 17 days, which would be quicker by over a year than Kobe Bryant's previous mark when he did it at 29 years and 122 days. That's a pretty sizable head start.

Not bad for a guy who isn't known as a scorer first and foremost. To put it in perspective, fellow 2003 draft classmate Carmelo Anthony trails James by 3,178 points on the career ledger even though many regard Anthony as the superior scorer. James has often said that he's not overtly trying to rack up scoring totals, yet he's done it better than anybody at his age in the history of the game.

It's hard to believe that James just turned 28 a couple of weeks ago yet has more points than Hall of Famers Kevin McHale, Chris Mullin, Magic Johnson and Scottie Pippen each did in their entire careers.

James has a sizable head start if he wants to catch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's scoring record, and the NBA's reigning MVP still has a ways to go. It's worth stressing that James and Bryant both came straight out of high school, but James will have reached 20,000 about 15 months ahead of Bryant and the rest of the field.

Can he get there?

It's certainly possible, but not likely.


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