By Rory Carroll
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – LeBron James’ steady march to the top of the NBA’s all-time scorers list has been assured for so long that the biggest drama remaining is seeing what type of shot he will deploy to etch his name into the history books.
James needs 63 points to surpass fellow Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 points and after a road game on Saturday in New Orleans, most expect ‘King James’ to complete his quest in Los Angeles on either Tuesday or Thursday.
Playing in his 20th season, the 38-year-old has been as dominant as ever and last month was named to a record-tying 19th All-Star game, an achievement also held by Abdul-Jabbar.
But James’ shot-making skills have expanded over the years and he has a full arsenal at his disposal to deliver a historic highlight.
“Over the course of my career I’ve just got better with every facet of my game,” James told ESPN in a recent interview.
“I’ve evolved to where I do what I want to do.”
When the 18-year-old James entered the league as the first overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003, sensational dunks were his calling card.
Tomahawks, windmills, reverses – James could rock the rim in any number of ways, sending fans into a frenzy and opposing teams into timeouts.
As a member of the Miami Heat, electrifying finishes on lobs from Dwyane Wade became a staple and helped pave the way to back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.
If James is one point away from breaking the record and barreling down the lane, the defender will have to decide quickly whether he wants to end up on the wrong side of a poster marking the occasion or simply get out of the way.
While he has never lost his ability to bully his way to the rim, James has become a more confident mid-range and three-point shooter over the years and his dynamic game helped him add titles with the Cavaliers in 2016 and the Lakers in 2020.
He could also try something new.
Abdul-Jabbar surpassed Wilt Chamberlain on the list with his signature skyhook on April 5, 1984 and James may be preparing to pay homage to the Hall of Famer.
James has been seen practicing the difficult shot, which no player has ever mastered like Abdul-Jabbar, during pre-game warm-ups.
The eyes of the sports world will be on Los Angeles to see how exactly he reaches the mountaintop but there is one thing NBA fans can agree on – no one wants to see it broken on a free throw.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Ken Ferris)