Lakers’ LeBron James Sends Strong Message to Nets’ Kevin Durant

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Getty LeBron James (left) and Kevin Durant.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is on pace to dethrone Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer this season, a record that some felt was unbreakable.

James himself knows that records are meant to be broken, and just as he will dethrone Kareem, it’s possible somebody will do the same to him.

“I mean [Kevin Durant] comes up — the first name that comes to mind for sure,” James told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin on January 10 when asked who has the best chance to surpass him.

“His name is not ‘Easy Money’ and ‘Slim Reaper’ for no reason,” James said. “He does it so effortlessly. His ability to shoot the three ball, shoot the mid-range, get to the paint, and also shoot 85-90 [percent] from the free-throw line. Those are the key ingredients, and most important is about being available on the floor.”

James is 422 points away from topping Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 points. Given that he’s averaging 29.1 points per game this season, that would put him on track to set the league mark on February 9 at home against the Milwaukee Bucks, if he doesn’t take any nights off.

Durant, meanwhile, is 14th on the all-time scoring list, or 11,281 points behind Abdul-Jabbar. If Durant, who is 34 years old, can maintain his 27.3 point-per-game career scoring average, he would need 411 games (or five straight full seasons) to catch Abdul-Jabbar. That would put him at 39 years old, compared with James, who just turned 38 in December 2022.

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LeBron James Calls Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving ‘Great Scorers’

There have been some out-of-this-world scoring performances in the NBA this season. Cleveland Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell scored 71, Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid scored 59, and Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic scored 60 and had a triple-double with 21 rebounds and 10 assists.

The level of talent in the NBA right now is abundant. James told McMenamin that there was a surplus of “great scorers” in the NBA who have the potential to pass him on the all-time scoring list.

“We have a lot of great scorers in our league, KD being one of them,” James added. “Kyrie, Luka — he’s young, Embiid, Giannis. Those guys put numbers on the board. You have to have a little luck as well. We all know that health is the most important — not only in sports, but in life in general — it’s a real good luck to still be on the floor and still be able to do it.”

Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris Sound Off on Kevin Durant Injury

Unfortunately for Durant, the one thing that could stop him from passing LeBron on the all-time scoring list is his injury history. In the third quarter of the Nets’ January 8 102-101 win over the Miami Heat, Durant collided with Heat forward Jimmy Butler and left with an injury that turned out to be a right MCL sprain. It is the second time he has suffered the injury in as many seasons.

Nets star Kyrie Irving knows that Brooklyn is at a disadvantage without Durant in the lineup for at least two weeks. But the star point guard understands that he and his teammates will have to continue to compete at the highest level, despite the unfortunate circumstance they are faced with.

“With K we know what we’re up against with him not being in [the] lineup,” Irving said of Durant’s injury, via the New York Post. “We can say it every single day, but we don’t have time for any excuses. We’ve just got to keep moving forward and stay mature about it.”

Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris also chimed in on Durant’s injury.

“It’s hard to foreshadow exactly what’s going to happen. … So, it’s a lot of hypotheticals,” Harris said. “But what we do know is that we do have a lot of depth. So that’s positive for us.”