Society at every LeBron James career points milestone


LeBron James can add NBA all-time scoring leader to his list of basketball accolades after passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for first on the career points list.

James wasn’t even born when Abdul-Jabbar became No. 1 in career points in April 1984. For those who don’t remember, Prince and the Revolution’s song “When Doves Cry” and Paul McCartney’s song “Say Say Say” featuring Michael Jackson both reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984.

During James’ quest to the top of the NBA points ladder, a lot has happened in sports and society. Four different U.S. presidents have occupied the Oval Office, Facebook rose to social media prominence and there was a power outage at a Super Bowl.

Here are some notable happenings at each milestone in James’ scoring journey.

LeBron James scores his first points

Oct. 29, 2003

James scored his first points against the Sacramento Kings with just under nine minutes left in the first quarter. He finished 12-of-20 from the floor with 25 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals in a 106-92 loss.

“I think that was LeBron’s statement to the league that he’s here. He’s for real,” said Aaron Goodwin, James’ former agent, after the game.

Starting lineups:

Cavaliers: G Ricky Davis, F LeBron James, F, Darius Miles, F Carlos Boozer, C Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Kings: G Mike Bibby, G Doug Christie, F Peja Stojakovic, C Brad Miller, C Vlade Divac

2003-04 NBA champions: Detroit Pistons

2003’s No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100: “In Da Club” by 50 Cent

Worth mentioning: When James scored his first NBA points, social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram didn’t exist. According to Statista, Instagram (548 million) and Facebook (298 million) were two of the ten most downloaded apps in the world in 2022.

LeBron James hits 10,000 career points

Feb. 27, 2008

James injured his ankle in the first half against the Boston Celtics but returned and hit 10,000 career points on a dunk in the third quarter. James became the ninth-fastest player to reach 10,000 points in NBA history (368 games). But the Cavs fell to the Celtics, 92-87. James finished with 26 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.

Starting lineups:

Cavaliers: G Delonte West, G Devin Brown, F LeBron James, F Ben Wallace, C Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Celtics: G Rajon Rondo, G Ray Allen, F Paul Pierce, F Kevin Garnett, C Kendrick Perkins

2007-08 NBA champions: Boston Celtics

2008’s No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100: “Low” by Flo Rida ft. T-Pain

Worth mentioning: Less than a month later, on March 21, 2008, James surpassed Brad Daugherty to become the Cavaliers’ all-time leading scorer.

Roughly nine months after LeBron reached 10,000 career points, Barack Obama was elected as the 44th president of the United States, becoming the first Black president in U.S. history. Obama served two presidential terms and hosted James-led championship teams at the White House three times during his tenure (2013, 2014 and 2016).

The Cavs’ 2016 visit produced a hilarious moment featuring Iman Shumpert.

LeBron James reaches 20,000 career points

Jan. 16, 2013

After spending his first seven seasons with the Cavaliers, James left Cleveland to join stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat in 2010. He reached 20,000 career points in his third year with the Heat.

James eclipsed 20,000 career points in the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors, becoming the youngest player to score 20,000 points in NBA history (28 years, 17 days). He broke Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant’s previous record of 29 years, 122 days. James led the way with 25 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds in a 92-75 Miami victory.

Starting lineups:

Heat: G Mario Chalmers, G Dwyane Wade, F LeBron James, F Chris Bosh, F Udonis Haslem

Warriors: G Jarret Jack, G Klay Thompson, F Draymond Green, F Harrison Barnes, C Festus Ezeli

2012-13 NBA champions: Miami Heat

2013’s No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100: “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ft. Wanz

Worth mentioning: A few weeks later during Super Bowl XLVII at the Superdome in New Orleans, the stadium’s lights went out in the third quarter. The partial blackout lasted for 34 minutes. Once the lights were back on and the game resumed, the Baltimore Ravens withstood a furious comeback by the San Francisco 49ers to win 34-31. Super Bowl XLVII had several storylines and memorable moments, but the Superdome’s power outage overshadowed it all — no pun intended.

Read more: Inside the 34-minute blackout during Super Bowl XLVII

LeBron James reaches 30,000 points

Jan. 23, 2018

In 2018, James, who was in his second stint with the Cavs, reached 30,000 points against the San Antonio Spurs. He joined Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Dirk Nowitzki, Bryant and Abdul-Jabbar as the only players to score 30,000 points. But James was the youngest player to achieve the feat at 33 years and 24 days old.

James finished with 28 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in a 114-102 loss.

“It’s just a special moment,” James said after the game. “It’s something I never set out to do. I’m not even a score-first guy when it comes to playing basketball … For me to sit here and be the youngest player ever to reach 30,000 … I put a lot of work into my game and it’s been a byproduct of that.”

Starting lineups:

Cavaliers: G Isaiah Thomas, G JR Smith, F LeBron James, F Jae Crowder, F Kevin Love

Spurs: G Danny Green, G Dejounte Murray, F Kyle Anderson, F Davis Bertans, C LaMarcus Aldridge

2017-18 NBA champions: Golden State Warriors

2018’s No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100: “God’s Plan” by Drake

Worth mentioning: A week after James hit 30,000 career points, a “super blue blood moon” was spotted for the first time since 1866. According to, a “super blue blood moon” is a combination of three different lunar events happening at once: A “blood moon,” “blue moon” and “supermoon.”

Another noteworthy event in 2018 was the marriage of actress Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in May. Since then, the couple have had two children and stepped down as senior members of the British royal family.

LeBron James becomes No. 1 on NBA career points list

Feb. 7, 2023

James, who is in his fifth season with the Lakers, passed Abdul-Jabbar on Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He became the seventh player in NBA history to own the career points record. Abdul-Jabbar held the title for nearly four decades before James surpassed him. James can continue adding to his record and distance himself from the pack.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be in this league for at least a few more years,” James said after the Lakers’ game against the New York Knicks on January 31.

Starting lineups:

Lakers: G Patrick Beverley, G Dennis Schroder, F LeBron James, F Anthony Davis, F Rui Hachimura

Thunder: G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G Josh Giddey, F Jaylin Williams, F Jalen Williams, F Kenrich Williams

2022-23 NBA champions: To be determined

2023’s current No. 1 song on the Billboard 100: “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus

Worth mentioning: Super Bowl LVII, which will be played five days after LeBron broke the record, is a historic one for the quarterback position. With Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller Patrick Mahomes set to start, it will be the first matchup between Black quarterbacks in Super Bowl history.

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