Jay C. Brandriet
It was April 5th, 1984. The Lakers were facing the Utah Jazz in Las Vegas.
With a flick of the wrist, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hit a baseline sky hook over Mark Eaton.
He became the all-time leading scorer in the National Basketball Association, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain.
It’s an iconic moment and highlight.
I didn’t see it.
A month short of nine years old, I was more interested in borrowing Jens Hansen’s Millennium Falcon for the weekend.
I became a die-hard NBA fan in 1987/88.
In the basketball universe I know, Kareem has always been the guy with the most points.
Jabbar’s mark of 38, 387 has stood the test of time for 39 years.
LeBron James is only 36 shy of eclipsing this incredible total.
James will be aggressive, and this will likely happen Tuesday.
More than WHAT he’s accomplishing with this feat, it’s HOW he’s doing it.
Nobody with this much mileage, has been this good.
People keep saying this is a “longevity milestone.”
When he passes Michael Jordan in total steals?
THAT is longevity.
Breaking Jabbar’s mark is about sustained greatness.
I listened to what legendary Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn had to say that night in Vegas.
He celebrated Kareem’s stamina.
Hearn went over the massive math projections it would take for someone to eclipse what “Cap” had done.
His biggest take away was, “this man has accomplished something that I don’t believe, and I mean this sincerely, will ever happen again.”
In 1984, he didn’t envision LBJ and the three-point era on the horizon.
By 2002, I did see King James coming.
What will LeBron breaking Kareem’s record mean?
It will mean a genius passer, scored more points than anyone that’s lived.
It will mean a kid from Akron smashed the expectations of the most hyped player ever.
Does it make him “the greatest?”
Many believe he already is.
Think about this though.
Kareem has six rings, and six Most Valuable Player awards.
His high school and college careers destroy everybody’s.
Five percent of people think he’s the best to play (much of this being he hasn’t competed in decades).
Was Karl Malone only 1.459 points and an injury away from being the top man to ever lace them up?
This upcoming moment isn’t six Finals MVP’s over a stretch of six full seasons.
You know what it IS though?
It’s a powerful G.O.A.T. debate tool.
LeBron and his aura will now have an even stronger strut.
What he does from now to 2028 and beyond, will break new boundaries for long term athletic endurance.
James is going to crush this, and many other records.
Tuesday night will be the first time most of us see NBA history made in this specific way.
At my age, it will also be the last.
Jay C. Brandriet