LeBron James reflects ahead of breaking NBA all-time scoring record and what he wants his legacy to be

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — When LeBron James came into the NBA, he was laser focused on achieving several goals.

“I wanted to be the rookie of the year my rookie year, I wanted to [be named an] All-Star, I wanted to win championships, I wanted to be the MVP of the league, I wanted to be the Player of the Year,” James told ABC News’ Good Morning America in an interview last week.

What wasn’t on his list was breaking the all-time NBA scoring record, a feat the four-time MVP achieved Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, surpassing the former all-time scoring record of 38,387 points — and doing so in front of the man who held the record for 38 years: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“I never ever was like I want to break the all-time score. I never ever even thought about it and the fact that I’m like literally right here, it is mind-blowing,” James said.

James now has 38,390 points scored during his nearly 20-year career. He holds the record for all-time playoffs points and eighth in career assists.

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On Jan. 31, GMA co-anchor Michael Strahan spoke to James before he took the court to face the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Madison Square Garden is James’ self-proclaimed favorite place. He said the “history” of the arena is what makes it so special to him.

“I think, not only what’s happened in this building over the years, but also the city,” James said. “I almost think it’s like a great Broadway show and I’m part of the cast.”

Though he hasn’t played for the Knicks — he says he came “very close” in 2010 — James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 before going to the Miami Heat in 2010, where he won his first two NBA championships. In 2014, James, an Ohio native, re-signed with the Cavaliers and led the team to a championship in 2016, breaking the Cleveland sports curse.

Now, James is with the Los Angeles Lakers, another legendary team, where he led the team to his fourth NBA championship in 2020.

When asked if breaking the all-time scoring record officially makes James the greatest NBA player ever, the star said he didn’t know.

“I don’t know if the record does,” he reflected. “The one thing I can tell you… I’ve always prided myself on saying, ‘I want to be.’ ‘I want to be the greatest to play this game,’ you know … and that came from a motivation to myself… my drive is to be the greatest of all time.”

On raising three kids and what he wants his legacy to be

While he leads the Lakers on the court, James has another big job at home: raising three kids — Bronny, Bryce and Zhuri — with his wife, Savannah.

“The best thing I’ve been able to guide my boys and my little girl is showing them the way and showing them you know about how to respect adults, how to be great in the community,” said James, who added his advice for his children is to lead with independence.

“At the end of the day, this is their walk in life, you have to be able to decide what journey you want to go. Mom and Dad are gonna give you the blueprint and you go from there,” James said.

Bronny, a high school senior and top draft prospect, is eligible for the NBA draft in 2024 and Bryce, a high school sophomore, in 2026, according to ESPN, creating a potential opening for James and his sons to play in the NBA together.

The 38-year-old player is only a few years shy of becoming the oldest active NBA player, but he said he’s not hanging up the crown just yet.

“No, I ain’t there yet, I ain’t there yet. My wife wishes I was there, though,” he said. “I tell her, ‘I got a little bit more time left.'”

Reflecting on his legacy, James shared what he wants to be remembered for both on and off the court.

“I want my legacy to be that all my teammates, and the people that played against me, know I play the game the right way and I competed at a high level. I never cheated the game … I never cheated a process,” he said.

“But for me off the floor, I think you know me [as] having my own school in my hometown, [meeting] inspiring kids all over the world, being active in politics at times or social injustice and things that go on in regular life. Those are the things that I hope people talk about as well because those are things that last forever,” he added.

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