LeBron James became the youngest ever to join the NBA’s 30,000-point club on Tuesday, surpassing the legendary Kobe Bryant.
He became the seventh player with 30,000 regular-season points when he hit a jumper with one second left in the first quarter of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 114-102 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
‘I don’t ever fully appreciate what I do anytime I accomplish something, no matter if it’s a win or a loss,’ James said. ‘I’m looking forward to the moment when I can be done with the game and I can sit back with my family and my friends and we can drink some wine and talk about all the accomplishments that I had and feats I was able to accomplish.’
James, who needed seven points to reach the milestone, finished with 28.
He was applauded by the arena before the second quarter and got a standing ovation from Spurs fans. James patted his heart and said ‘thank you so much.’
‘Just a special moment,’ James said. ‘I just started thinking about everything that my journey (has entailed) from being a kid that first picked up a basketball when I was five years old to first starting playing organised basketball when I was nine and all the way up until this point. I give a lot of thanks to a lot of people. It’s just a special moment.
‘It’s something I never set out to do. I’m not even a score-first guy when it comes to playing basketball. I love getting my team-mates involved and seeing my team-mates be excited about scoring and me getting assists. For me to sit here and be the youngest player ever to reach 30,000.’
He missed his first two mid-range jumpers against San Antonio before making two driving lay-ups and a 20-footer. He hit the milestone jumper over Danny Green from 19 feet out.
The Cavaliers were unable to celebrate immediately because the Spurs had an opportunity for a last-second shot. When Brandon Paul missed a 71-foot heave and the buzzer sounded, James’ team-mates quickly streamed off the bench to congratulate him.
Among the first to greet him was guard Dwyane Wade, James’ team-mate for four seasons in Miami, including two NBA championships.
‘I just told him I’m proud of him,’ Wade said. ‘You see a person’s work ethic, you know a person’s heart, cares about team, cares about winning. Even though he’s had a lot of individual success, he doesn’t feel comfortable with some of it.’
The 33-year-old James joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) and Dirk Nowitzki (30,808) on the list.