Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James is overcome with emotion after passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA's all-time leading scorer Tuesday at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 8 (UPI) -- LeBron James dribbled across the top of the paint, jumped and sank a fade-away jump shot to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and become the NBA's all-time leading scorer in a Los Angeles Lakers loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
James hit the 14-foot shot with about 11 seconds left in the third quarter of the 133-130 setback Tuesday at Cyrpto.com Arena in Los Angeles. He totaled a game-high 38 points, with seven rebounds and three assists.
"This was not a goal for me," James told reporters. "That's why it's probably so surreal and weird to me.
"I never talked about being the all-time scorer in NBA history. It was never a thought of mine until I started seeing my numbers get closer and closer."
James entered the game 36 points shy of passing Abdul-Jabbar's previous mark of 38,387, which stood as the most points in league history for nearly four decades. Abdul-Jabbar set the previous record in 1984 and retired in 1989.
The 1995 Hall of Fame inductee played 20 seasons and averaged 10.1 points per game in his final year, at 41 years old. He was 36 and averaged 21.5 points per game when he broke the record during his 15th season.
James, 38, is averaging 30.2 point per game this season, his 20th NBA campaign.
"LeBron's career is one of someone who planned to dominate this game," Abdul-Jabbar told TNT. "And it's gone for almost 20 years now.
"You have to give him credit for just the way he planned to last and dominate. He has that indefinable essence that they call leadership."
James made 13 of 20 shots, including four 3-pointers in Tuesday's loss. He scored eight points over the first 12 minutes. James scored another dozen points in the second quarter.
The 19-time All-Star, 18-time All-NBA selection, four-time MVP and four-time champion exploded for 16 points in the third quarter, including his record-breaking jump shot.
James totaled 14 points through the first 11 minutes of the frame. He then caught a pass on the right elbow from guard Russell Westbrook with about 18 seconds left in the quarter.
James backed into defender Kenrich Williams. He then put his head down, took three dribbles over the foul line and rested his right foot. James ended the play by picking up the ball, jumping off his left foot, flicking his right wrist and lobbing a shot toward the rim.
The ball soared threw the air and fell through the net, without touching the rim.
James then threw up his arms in celebration as the crowd roared. Abdul-Jabbar, who sat court-side, stood to applaud the record-breaker.
The game was stopped to honor James as the crowd chanted "MVP, MVP, MVP." James then met with his mother, children and wife on the court, before he addressed fans.
"To be able to be in the presence of such a legend and great, Kareem, means so much to me," James said. "It's very humbling. Please give a standing ovation to 'The Captain,' please. ... To everybody that has been a part of this run with me over the last 20 years, thank you so much, because I wouldn't be me without you all."
The Lakers (25-30) will host the Milwaukee Bucks (37-17) at 10 p.m. EST Thursday in Los Angeles.
LeBron James when he was a high school senior playing basketball at the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio, on February 14, 2003. Photo by Tom Cammett/UPI | License Photo