LeBron James is closing in on another milestone, needing just 485 points to supplant Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s all-time leading scorer. The Lakers veteran should get there by season’s end, if not sooner, the latest accomplishment in a breathtaking career spanning 20 remarkable seasons. Records are meant to be broken, and, inevitably, as sports continue to evolve, each generation birthing stronger, better athletes than the one that came before it, most will. However, this could be one of those rare exceptions, a feat so unprecedented, so monumental in scope, that it may end up standing the test of time.
Mavericks All-Star Luka Doncic, you could argue, has as good a chance as anyone to eventually overtake James, though, obviously, that would require him to stay healthy while playing at an elite level well into his 30s. Doncic doesn’t see either of those coming to fruition, conceding that if the scoring record is eventually broken, it won’t be by him. Even if he could, it doesn’t sound like Doncic, the NBA’s leading scorer at 34.3 points per game this season, has any desire to play that long, suggesting that by LeBron’s age (38), basketball will be in his rearview mirror.
“It’s always a possibility. It’s going to be really tough. You got to have a guy that plays 20 years, in that shape. How he holds up his body. I’m just saying outside all the basketball skills, it’s hard to hold that body,” said Doncic, weighing in on LeBron’s pursuit of history. “If you’re saying me, there’s no way, because I’m not playing that [long].”
While you have to admire his honesty and self-awareness, Doncic shouldn’t sell himself short. The 23-year-old is already on a Hall-of-Fame trajectory, tallying 50 or more points in three of his last six games including a 60-point triple-double with 21 boards and 10 assists against the Knicks. Of course, James’ commitment to his body is almost unparalleled, adhering to a strict diet and workout regimen. By contrast, Doncic has, at times, faced criticism about his fitness level, not displaying the physique or appearance we usually associate with star athletes. Maybe Doncic will adopt a more health-conscious mindset as his career progresses, though whatever he's doing seems to be working, with the Mavs currently riding a seven-game winning streak, putting them just 2.5 games out of first in the Western Conference.