Where were you when LeBron became scoring king?

Count yourself lucky if you got to bear witness


The Miami Heat’s LeBron James (6) has his shot blocked by the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard during the second half in Game 4 of the NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena in Miami, June 12, 2014.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

“The Chosen One.”

LeBron James surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time scoring record in the NBA, Tuesday night in Los Angeles. The title of King James has never been more accurate than it is right now.

The expectations started years ago. As a high school junior, LeBron James was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. As he stood pointing at the camera, ball in hand, the words were right there on the cover.

At the time, almost exactly 21 years ago, you would have been taking the safer bet if you said he would not live up to the title. I mean, who could? The Chosen One is a nearly sacrilegious title, and the pressure it puts on a 17-year-old is immense. It did not seem to matter to him, and he got a tattoo across his back that reads “Chosen1”.

Six years later, LeBron reached 10,000 career points in a loss to the Boston Celtics. He was injured in the first quarter but returned and managed to put up 26 points and eight rebounds, getting the 10,000 mark on an unbelievable driving dunk.

Still, without a championship, he lost in the NBA Finals to the Spurs dynasty the previous year. LeBron was must-watch television and was both one of the most athletic people in the world and one of the most skilled players in the NBA.

Still, he had not cemented himself as one of the greatest ever yet. He had not won an MVP Award and the Cleveland Cavaliers organization had not managed to surround him with the talent needed to win a championship.

Just over four years later, LeBron reached 20,000 points in a win against the Golden State Warriors. Now playing for the Miami Heat, James had won his championship in 2012. While there were certainly hardships and holes in his resume, he was now the youngest to ever record 20,000 points. The Heat won 92-75 and went on to repeat the championship in 2013.

Five years after that, James reached 30,000 via a jumper over Danny Green in a game against the Spurs. After returning to the Cavaliers, he made three straight finals and was on his way to another. He won only one of those finals, in 2016, but it was the greatest finals performance of all time. After going down 3-1, the Cavaliers won three straight to take a championship to Cleveland for the first time in 52 years. LeBron had firmly entered the GOAT conversation, but he was not done yet.

Now, another five years has passed. On Tuesday night LeBron James needed 36 points to pass Abdul-Jabbar. As the third quarter wound down, James backed down Kenrich Williams. He created separation in his signature way, by pulling back around 15 feet out for a fadeaway jumper.

Everyone knew this one was it. His form was perfect, and the shot went in with a swish. James turned, arms outstretched, and walked back down the court to a cheering stadium. Worldwide, people were watching. I watched from my apartment here in Pullman, wearing my bootleg Cavs jersey with his name on it.

King James, the Chosen One, call him whatever you want. All the names ring true. LeBron James is who he was destined to be, from a poor kid in Akron, Ohio raised by his single mom and his football coach to the greatest player in the history of basketball. We are all lucky to have witnessed his greatness.

Next stop: 40,000.