While the main storyline of Wednesday’s contest between the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers was Kobe Bryant’s final trip to Quicken Loans Arena, LeBron James made some history himself during his team's 120-111 victory.
Bleacher Report shared news of James passing Paul Pierce for the 15th spot on the all-time scoring list:
According to ESPN.com's list of the NBA’s all-time scoring leaders, James entered Wednesday’s contest with 26,159 points compared to Pierce’s 26,166. James finished with 29 points Wednesday, while Pierce tallied six in the Los Angeles Clippers' 139-134 loss to the Boston Celtics.
Here is a look at the 14 players ahead of James and their totals coming into play Wednesday. Tim Duncan and John Havlicek are certainly within striking distance in the coming weeks for the King:
The fact James moved up the list against Bryant, who is in the top three, is also noteworthy because the two superstars have been two of the dominant forces in the league in the post-Michael Jordan era. SportsCenter put their overall impact on the NBA into perspective leading up to Wednesday’s head-to-head matchup:
Kobe or LeBron have played in the last 9 NBA Finals without ever playing each other. pic.twitter.com/41Thlcete4— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 11, 2016
Bryant shared the advice he gave James as he passed the King the proverbial torch as the face of the league, per the Associated Press (via Pro Basketball Talk): "I remember sitting down and talking with him. The advice I gave him, because he would have so much coming at him, was focus on the game. Stay true to the craft. Everything else would sort out. That was the most important piece of advice I could give him."
James clearly took Bryant’s advice to heart because he has developed into one of the greatest players the league has ever seen. The fact James is in the top 15 on the all-time scoring list is a testament to his greatness because he is rarely talked about in the pure scoring sense like shoot-first guards such as Bryant and Jordan were throughout their careers.
Rather, James has been a dominant scorer when he wants to enforce his will, but he also averaged seven or more assists a night seven different times in his career as an all-around star. Bryant never reached seven assists a night in a single campaign of his career, and even the greatest of all time in Jordan only did so once.
James is still only 31 years old and reached the NBA Finals in each of the last five seasons. He likely still has plenty of productive seasons remaining considering he was averaging 24.9 points a night in 2015-16 as of Wednesday.
That means more names will surely be left in James’ dust on the scoring list over the next couple of years as he continues to search for that elusive ring for his hometown Cavaliers.
How high he ultimately climbs on the all-time scoring list will further shape how people discuss James among the greatest to ever play one day. ESPN.com already recently ranked him as the third-best player in league history, and he will only further solidify his resume as he continues to leapfrog some of the NBA’s most famous names on the scoring list.