LeBron James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer on Tuesday night, scoring his 38,388th point to break a record that stood for nearly 40 years.
And in this defining moment of his life, James was unable to hold back the foul language.
“F–k, man, thank you guys,” James said into a mic as he addressed the crowd at Crypto.com Arena in a speech that was broadcast on TNT (and beat the network’s censors).
Warning: graphic language
Perhaps James will incur a fine for the F-bomb, although it’s hard to imagine a scenario where he cares. The 38-year-old cemented himself in the NBA history books in the Lakers’ 133-130 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, living up to his nickname by becoming the league’s scoring “King.”
The game was stopped for about 10 minutes while James hugged his family and participated in a brief ceremony with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Abdul-Jabbar. James said he almost never cries, but he acknowledged the tears in his eyes.
“I just want to say thank you to the Laker faithful. You guys are one of a kind,” James told the crowd. “To be able to be in the presence of such a legend and great as Kareem, it’s very humbling. Please give a standing ovation to The Captain, please.”
James, who added two more points to bring his career total to 38,390, surpassed the mark held since April 1984 by Abdul-Jabbar, who watched the game from a baseline seat near the Lakers’ bench. Abdul-Jabbar then joined a clearly emotional James and Silver on the court after the historic basket.
James’ mother, wife and children also sat courtside amid a celebrity-studded crowd that rose in waves of anticipation nearly every time he touched the ball.
James didn’t let them down: After scoring 20 points in the first half with a full showcase of the offensive talent that still shines blindingly after two decades in the NBA, he set the new record with a 16-point third quarter capped by that pretty jumper.
“LeBron’s career is one of someone who planned to dominate this game,” Abdul-Jabbar said in an interview with TNT. “And it’s gone for almost 20 years now. You have to give him credit for just the way he played and for the way he’s lasted and dominated. He has that indefinable essence that they call leadership.”
— With AP