LeBron James closes in on 40,000 points: 40 stats about latest milestone for NBA's all-time leading scorer



LeBron James is closing in on becoming the first player in NBA history to score 40,000 career points. The NBA’s all-time leading scorer is just 40 points shy of the milestone after an otherworldly fourth quarter in the Lakers’ win over the Clippers on Wednesday. He could get there as soon as Thursday versus the Wizards, but Saturday against the Nuggets seems more likely. 

What better time to take a 40,000-foot view of his incredible scoring prowess over the years?

Here are 40 facts on LeBron’s quest to 40K, looking through the lens of several aspects, from his unparalleled longevity, to the unique ways he got there and of course, the downright bizarre, quirky and jaw-dropping stats. 

Longevity

Let’s start with longevity. After all, we wouldn’t be here if LeBron didn’t have one of the longest (if not the longest) primes in sports history. 

1. LeBron has scored at least 10 points in 1,203 straight games, easily the longest streak in NBA history, ahead of Michael Jordan (866). The last time he failed to score in double figures was on Jan. 5, 2007.

2. He’s ranked top 20 in the NBA in points per game in every season of his career, by far the longest streak (21 straight seasons) in NBA history (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is next with 17 straight seasons), and the longest “scoring prime” in modern sports history, as I discovered last year. 

3. James is the youngest (21) and oldest (37) NBA player to average 30 points per game in a season.

4. He is the only player in NBA history with a 40-point game vs. all 30 teams.

5. He has a 40-point game in all but one season in his career (2015-16).

6. He is averaging as many points per 36 minutes this season (25.7) than in his career (25.7).

7. He has the 13 highest-scoring games in NBA history by a player in his 21st (or later) season. 

8. He is averaging 25.2 points per game this season. Nobody else has had more than 7.4 PPG in their 21st (or later) season. 

9. He scored 2,566 career points vs. the Seattle SuperSonics, New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets and Charlotte Bobcats, franchises that have either moved or changed their name — or both. 

10. He is the only player in NBA history who ranks in the top 10 in career scoring average and games played. 

11. He is the oldest player in the NBA. The last time the oldest player averaged double figures in scoring was 2002-03 with John Stockton at 10.8 PPG (h/t Tim Reynolds, Associated Press).

12. LeBron’s first NBA points were scored more than 20 years ago (Oct. 29, 2003) vs. the Sacramento Kings, who rostered Jabari Smith, the father of current Rockets’ forward Jabari Smith Jr. (2022 third overall pick). FYI, LeBron’s played vs. at least 10 father-son duos in his career. 

13. Looking ahead, he can be the first player in NBA history to score as a teenager and in his 40s. He turns 40 in December. 

The wow numbers

Now that I’ve whet the appetite, here’s a main course of stunning facts. 

14. LeBron has more points in his career than Larry Bird and Magic Johnson combined (39,498).

15. He could go scoreless in 125 straight games and still have a higher career scoring average than Kobe Bryant (25.0).

16. LeBron passed Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list roughly five years ago (March 6, 2019).

17. If he never made a 3-pointer or free throw in his career, he’d still have more points than Kevin Durant. 

18. He has scored 133 career points with his team eliminated from playoff contention, or 0.3% of his career total (he’s missed the playoffs four times in his career). 

19. He’s scored more points since he last won an MVP in 2012-13 (18,879) than Tracy McGrady did in his entire career (18,381). 

20. LeBron has scored over 11,000 points since he last fouled out in a game (April 9, 2017).

21. He has the same number of career 50-point games as all players combined in Celtics history (14).

22. He has more career 50-point games (14) than games with single-digit points (8).

23. A full season (82 games) of LeBron’s lowest-scoring games would equal 12.6 PPG, the same as the career scoring average of Hall of Famer Jason Kidd. 

24. LeBron has never scored exactly 49 points in a regular-season game (twice in the playoffs).

25. He won his only scoring title in 2007-08 (30.0 PPG) when the Seattle SuperSonics were in their last season of existence (before becoming the Oklahoma City Thunder) with rookie Kevin Durant.

26. LeBron could miss 304 straight shots and still have a career field goal percentage of exactly 50.0%. 

27. He does not have the highest-scoring game vs. any one franchise in NBA history.

28. The first player to score 30,000 points (Wilt Chamberlain), 35,000 points (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and soon 40,000 points (LeBron James) all did so in a Lakers uniform. 

29. LeBron has 1,803 career points vs the Bulls, his most vs. any team in his career (because of course, it’s vs. the Bulls). 

Incredible scoring feats

Let’s not forget LeBron’s many historic scoring feats.

30. LeBron has the most points in a game in Miami Heat history (61 on March 3, 2014 vs. Charlotte Bobcats).

31. He has the most 30-point games on 50% shooting in NBA history (429).

32. He has a 13-game streak with at least 25 points on 50% shooting last season, tied for the longest streak by any player since the 1976-77 merger (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Shaquille O’Neal).

33. He is the youngest player in NBA history to every 1,000-point milestone (1K, 2K, 3K, 4K, 5K, 6K … 38K, 39K).

34. He averages at least 25 points per game vs. every franchise except for the Pistons (24.1) (this number could fall below 25.0 vs the Clippers if he scores 22 points or fewer on Wednesday).

35. He is the only player to average at least 26 points per game for three different franchises (Heat, Lakers, Cavaliers) in a career (min. 100 games for each team).

Scoring every possible way

Well, he wouldn’t be the first to 40,000 points if he was easy to guard. For over two decades, James has proven he can score anytime, anyway, from anywhere.

36. LeBron is the only player in NBA history who ranks in the top 10 in points off twos, threes and free throws.

37. LeBron is the fourth in the NBA in both dunks and 30+ footers made in the shot-tracking era (since 1996-97). He is the only player who ranks top 30 in both in that span. 

38. LeBron leads the NBA in points in clutch time, on fastbreaks and in the paint since those were all first tracked in 1996-97. 

39. He’s led the NBA in clutch-time scoring (final five minutes, score within five points) an NBA-high three times since entering the league in 2003-04 (2007-08, 2009-10, 2017-18).

40. With the Lakers, 25% of his points are from 3-point range. He was never over 20% in his other three career stops. 





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