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LeBron James hits 40,000 points

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, shoots as Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma, center, and forward Richaun Holmes defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb 29, 2024, in Los Angeles. PHOTO: AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James reached 40,000 points Saturday night, still going strong in his 21st NBA season as he tries to put the career scoring record out of reach.

James drove past Michael Porter Jr and hit a layup with 10:39 left in the second quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Denver Nuggets for the historic basket.

James received a standing ovation at the next timeout, while coach Darvin Ham gave him a congratulatory pat on the chest. There was an in-arena video presentation, which was preceded and followed by James raising the ball over his head.

James shot an airball on his first attempt of the night but responded by getting out in transition for a layup for his first points and prompting the Nuggets to use their first timeout. He then knocked down a corner 3-pointer before subbing out with 3:19 left in the first quarter.

James checked back in to start the second quarter, attacking the basket 14 seconds into the period to set up the historic basket.

James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s mark of 38,387 points to become the league’s leading scorer on Feb 7, 2023, against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He reached 39,000 points on Nov 21 in an In-Season Tournament game against the Utah Jazz.

Ham was a young fan when Abdul-Jabbar was finishing out his career and assumed the record would never be challenged, let alone surpassed in the way James has.

“But here we are,” Ham said before the game. “It’s a testament to Bron, just the time and resources he spends on himself, making sure not only he is healthy but he’s healthy at a high level.”

James, 39, has also played the second-most regular season and most playoff minutes in league history. He is the only NBA player with at least 10,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 10,000 assists.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone spent five seasons with James as an assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2005-10 and remains in awe of how he is able to still play at such a high level.

“I don’t get caught up in the number per se, but you just have to marvel at the continued greatness,” Malone said.

“Just to do what he’s doing at this stage of his career, and it doesn’t appear like he’s slowing down at all, which is even scarier. Really, when you take a step back, you just have to marvel at the longevity. But he’s just not playing at this. He is playing effectively.”

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