At some point during Wednesday night’s Heat game, possibly late in the first half or early in the third quarter, LeBron James will become the youngest player in NBA history to reach the 20,000-point mark for his career.
James goes into the game against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland with a career total of 19,982 points, just 18 short of the coveted milestone.
He is 28 years, 17 days old, more than a year younger than Kobe Bryant, who at 29 years, 122 days is the current youngest player to reach the 20,000 plateau.
Both James and Bryant enjoyed an advantage that wasn’t available to Chamberlain or Jordan. Both went straight from high school to the NBA.
Jordan spent three years at North Carolina before entering the NBA draft. Chamberlain played two varsity seasons at Kansas in the 1950s (freshmen were not eligible) and one year with the Harlem Globetrotters before joining the NBA.
Chamberlain also did not have the benefit of having a 3-point basket available to him, but it is doubtful the 7-1 center would have gained much from it.
Even so, James’ numbers are impressive. In his 10th season, he is averaging 27.6 points a game for his career (26.0 this season) in 725 games, 724 of them starts.
Chamberlain, who once scored 100 points in one game, finished his 14-year career with a 30.1 average in 1,045 games with the Warriors, 76ers, and Lakers. He needed only 499 games to reach 20,000 points and is the only player to do in less than nine seasons.
Jordan also averaged 30.1 points a game in his 15-year career, all with the Bulls, taking 620 games to hit 20,000.
Bryant was averaging 25.5 points a game going into Tuesday night game against the Bucks and is in his 17th NBA season, all with the Lakers. It took him 811 games to hit the mark.
Considering James has scored at least 20 points in 35 of 36 games this season, it would seem he would have little trouble getting the 18 he needs to reach the plateau. He scored 31 points against the Warriors when the two teams played in Miami on Dec. 12.
As for what is in James’ future, well, he is more than halfway to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring total of 38,387 points. At his current scoring pace, it would take James less than nine seasons to overtake the former Laker-Buck-UCLA Bruin.