The sad background to LeBron James’ historic greatness

If all goes as expected, LeBron James is about a week away, maybe a little more, from breaking one of basketball’s Holy Grail records.

It is a worthy pursuit and remarkable. The difficulty level is off the charts. To be on the cusp of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career scoring total of 38,387 requires not only historic excellence, but also outrageous longevity.

In a game that has evolved so much over the years, breaking through one of those glass ceilings feels impossible. In most cases it is. A record made to be broken, you say? In professional hoops, they are made to stand tall and proud, and possibly to infinity.

The rebounding mark held by Wilt Chamberlain will never be surpassed unless basketball switches to a 10-second shot clock or reduces the size of the court by about 50 percent.

John Stockton’s records for steals and assists? Forget it. It will never happen. Even the most seasoned of modern steals and relievers would have to repeat their best season in about 30 years to get their hands on the Utah Jazz legend.

Blocks? no Rudy Gobert is the most famous player today, but he won’t boast Hakeem Olajuwon’s career numbers, nor as many shots coming from beyond the 3-point arc.

So by default, what James is about to accomplish is incredible and has many strands, each worthy of attention. Still, despite everything, not least the dizzying reality that he’s scoring 30 points a night at age 38, it’s impossible to escape a gnawing thought.

That even with the history and the glamor and the numerical weight, it’s somehow a sad and strange pursuit.

Skip says LeBron’s recent scoring streak is ‘impossible, all-time great’

Skip discusses LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Because instead of happening against a proper backdrop, not necessarily a title run, but at least one where his Los Angeles Lakers were somewhat competitive, it’s shaping up to be another lost campaign in Tinseltown.

The Lakers are 23-28, good enough for just 13th of 15 teams in the Western Conference, uncertain about Anthony Davis’ fitness, saddled with Russell Westbrook’s massive contract, limited in both their future draft picks and with limits on what they can handle and rely on James for everything.

James sat out Monday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets and was scheduled to be evaluated (sore foot) Tuesday before the Lakers’ Madison Square Garden showdown with the New York Knicks, where it once looked like he might end up a free agent.

Sometimes the Lakers look like a decent team. They played hard and well in a nationally televised road trip to Boston last weekend, which sparked some controversy when James was fouled by Jayson Tatum on a potentially game-winning play, but there was no call.

James’ reaction was impressively theatrical, teammate Patrick Beverley hilariously grabbing a photographer’s camera on the court to show the officials their stupidity and getting a technical for it. And in the end, the Lakers lost again, in overtime.

LeBron, Lakers call in NBA refs after missed call

LeBron, Lakers call in NBA refs after missed call

LeBron James was armed and Skip and Shannon responded.

James still cares about winning and losing, and he made that clear in comments a few weeks ago.

“I’m a winner and I want to win,” he told reporters. “I want to win and give myself a chance to win and keep competing for championships. This has always been my passion. To play basketball at this level just to play basketball is not in my DNA.”

He looks disappointed. All things being equal, he probably didn’t envision his time in Los Angeles to be so unproductive after the 2020 Orlando bubble title.

The Lakers have made too many missteps since then to be a title contender. The current group is not a deep lineup. Nor, to be honest, particularly functional. The team added Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards last week, which wasn’t a bad move. It’s also not the kind of switch that will transform the team’s fortunes.

[Trade grades: How did Lakers do in Hachimura deal?]

In two decades it won’t matter. People will see the number of points James put up in his career, rave about it, and the context will be long gone.

But it feels like it matters now. This is the last record of this type that will be broken for a long time. Luka Doncic is the only current player who may have a chance and he has said he plans to set foot on a Slovenian farm long before he is old enough to actually do so.

That’s an absurd number if you think about it. Trae Young scored 2,155 points last season, the most in the league. James is at 38,271. Try to figure out how well, how long that takes.

The recording will come, very soon. Maybe that would also be great on an appropriate night, like the Feb. 9 home game against fellow All-Star captain Giannis Antetokounmpo. They will stop the game because of it. There will be a celebration. Handshakes, hugs and cheers everywhere.

And then what? We guess we’re back in contention as another Lakers season just falters — sustained so far by one player and his controversial pursuit of history.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and contributor to the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

Top stories from FOX Sports:

I FOLLOW Follow your favorites to personalize your FOX Sports experience

LeBron James

Los Angeles Lakers

national basketball association

LeBron James

Get more from LeBron James Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *