LeBron James surpassed Michael Jordan’s career points total on Wednesday night, moving into fourth place on the NBA’s career scoring list during the Los Angeles Lakers’ 115-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Jordan had 32,292 points in 15 NBA seasons. James, playing in his 16th season, now has 32,311 points.
James accomplished the feat while wearing a pair of Nikes with “Thank You M.J.” written neatly on the side. He cried into a towel on the Lakers’ bench while a tribute video aired at Staples Center during the next timeout.
Here is how James, Jordan and players around the NBA reacted to the historic moment:
James: “M.J. was an inspiration. M.J. was the lightning in a bottle for me, because I wanted to be like him.”
James: “When you’re an inner-city kid from Akron, Ohio, like myself and my guys growing up, you look for anything that can inspire you. You’re always just up against the numbers of failing. The percentages of guys like myself — single-parent household, only child, underprivileged — (the chance of) making it out is not high at all. M.J. had a lot to do with me making it out, along with my mother, along with the city itself, along with the Little League coaches I had. But Mike had no idea what he was doing for a kid that was growing up a 45-minute flight away from Chicago, where he was putting in that work.”
Jordan said in a statement: “I want to congratulate LeBron on achieving another great milestone during his amazing career.”
Moritz Wagner, the Lakers’ rookie center from Germany: “I never saw Michael live. (James) is the G.O.A.T. of our generation.”
Kobe Bryant (33,643) is next for James to chase on the scoring chart. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points) and Karl Malone (36,928) top the all-time list.