PHILADELPHIA — He might be embarking on his 13th season and playing through the bad back that caused him to miss most of training camp, but LeBron James is still setting basketball records that celebrate his youth.
James became the youngest player in NBA history to score 25,000 points with an alley-oop dunk that he guided in the hoop with 8:06 remaining in the fourth quarter of a 107-100 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday. The bucket gave James 22 points in the game and 25,001 points for his career. During the ensuing timeout, James was acknowledged for the accomplishment by the Sixers’ public address announcer, and he received a standing ovation from the road crowd.
James, who is 30 years, 307 days old, outdid another prep-to-pro sensation, Kobe Bryant, in reaching the milestone. Bryant reached the plateau at 31 years, 151 days old. The 30-year-old James became the the 20th player to reach 25,000 points and the sixth active player, joining Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
“Nineteen guys?” James said of the elite company he was joining. “There’s been over 1900 guys that have been in this league, so I guess it’s a cool thing.
“It just means that I’ve played with a lot of great teammates, a lot of great coaches that have allowed me to be in position to be successful on the floor,” James said at shootaround Monday, when informed he was nearing the point total. “It’s definitely a milestone any time you’re able to have an accomplishment like that. I’ve been around some great groups, and I’m able to reap a lot of the benefits.”
James said he remembered reaching the 20,000-point notch while playing in Golden State in January 2013. He said he saved the game ball from the occasion.
“I’ll probably keep this one too if we win,” James told ESPN.com. “If we lose, it’s going to put a damper on my trophy case.”
Coincidentally, James spoiled the 25,000-point night for the Los Angeles Lakers superstar. He scored 37 points to Bryant’s 31 in a 93-87 win for the Cleveland Cavaliers over L.A. on Jan. 21, 2010. “That’s crazy,” James said when informed of the Bryant connection. “That was five years ago? Wow.”
James is just the seventh to reach the 25,000-point milestone before the end of his 13th season, along with Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Oscar Robertson and Dominique Wilkins. James needed 915 games to reach the accomplishment, which trails only Chamberlain (691), Jordan (782) and Abdul-Jabbar (889), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Meanwhile, James continues to catapult up the all-time scoring list. The next name ahead of him is Jerry West, with 25,192 points.
“For me, winning basketball games and then reaching milestones individually will be a pretty cool thing, but obviously, it will be a team aspect of it that comes first,” James said. “But any time along that line that you’re able to reach a milestone, I think it’s very humbling and it’s a cool thing.
“I know where I come from, and I know where my family comes from, and for me to have milestones along the way — obviously I have more work to do — but it’s cool to see when you’re able to kind of just stop and look at it. Because I don’t get much time to really stop and look at some of the things that I’ve done.”