LeBron James becomes first NBA player to score 40,000 points

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In Saturday’s game against the Denver Nuggets, LeBron James achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first NBA player to surpass 40,000 career regular-season points.

But he described it as “bittersweet” after his Los Angeles Lakers side lost 124-114 to the defending NBA champions.

“Being the first player to do something, it’s pretty cool in this league,” said the 39-year-old, who scored 26 points on the night.

“You just know the history, you know the greats that have come through.”

James achieved this historic feat with 10 minutes and 39 seconds left in the second quarter, executing a driving lay-up from the left side of the basket, which propelled the Lakers to a 37-32 lead.

During a timeout, the crowd honored James with a standing ovation, and the ball he used to reach the milestone was taken out of play.

However, despite James’ milestone, the Nuggets extended their winning streak to six games, led by Nikola Jokic’s 35 points, leaving James with conflicting emotions.

“The main thing is always the main thing and that’s the win,” he said. “And I hated that had to happen in a defeat especially versus a team that plays extremely well.

“We played some good basketball but weren’t able to close it out, so [it’s] bittersweet, but I enjoyed every moment on the floor.”

In February 2023, James surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s longstanding record of 38,387 points, becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

With four NBA championships and four Most Valuable Player awards under his belt, James is currently in his 21st season and holds the title of the league’s oldest active player.

Reflecting on his achievement, James expressed uncertainty about whether another NBA player could reach the 40,000-point milestone.

“You have to play the game quite a while and have some good luck with injuries and things of that nature,” he said.

“You have to take care of your body. You have to be present on the floor and then you have to be productive as well.”

Lakers coach Darvin Ham was among those to pay tribute to James.

“Just happy for him. It was a hell of an accomplishment,” he said.

“Wish we could have got the win to cap it off. But my hat’s off to him. Amazing, amazing run that continues to this day.”