Betteridge’s law of headlines states that any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered with a no.
That’s not entirely true here.
Yes, LeBron James will most likely become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in one of two games before his Los Angeles Lakers visit the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center on Saturday, Feb. 11. But there’s an outside shot.
James enters Tuesday’s matchup with the New York Knicks at 38,271 career points, 116 behind all-time leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. James currently averages 30.2 points per game this season, so if he continues at that pace, he’ll do it late in LA’s Feb. 7 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
However, co-star Anthony Davis has returned from a foot injury, and the Lakers also recently acquired Gonzaga product Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards, taking some of the load off James. It’s entirely plausible that he scores below that 30.2 average, as Sam Quinn of CBS Sports explains. In that Thunder game, he’ll likely be defended by Luguentz Dort, which could further slow his roll.
Still, unless James has an exceptionally poor game, sits one out or leaves one early with an injury, he’ll probably hit the mark either against Oklahoma City or on Feb. 9 when the Lakers host the Milwaukee Bucks. Quinn noted that the game against the Bucks is slated for national TV, and there would be narratives aplenty if he does it against fellow All-Star captain Giannis Antetokounmpo, a possible eventual challenger for the scoring title. Oh, and Abdul-Jabbar spent the first six seasons of his career in Milwaukee before getting traded to the Lakers. It’s simply too perfect.
Ticket resellers have taken note. As of Tuesday afternoon, the cheapest ticket on StubHub (after fees) for the Lakers-Thunder game is $434, and the cheapest for the Lakers-Bucks game goes for $390. Other Lakers home games, such as a March 3 tilt with the Minnesota Timberwolves, start in the $94 range.
When the Lakers come to Chase Center, it’s $291, an exorbitant price compared with a typical NBA regular season game, but nothing out of the ordinary for a Lakers-Warriors weekend clash in recent years.
So, most likely, LeBron will already be the all-time scoring leader by the time the Lakers come to San Francisco, though one can dream. The slim possibility of him breaking the record less than a mile from where Barry Bonds became the Major League home run king would be quite the coincidence.
As an aside: Bonds broke that record on Aug. 7, 2007, when the San Francisco Giants hosted the Washington Nationals at what was then AT&T Park. I had a ticket for the following night. So I didn’t get to see the passing of the torch—he hit No. 756 on Italian Heritage Night, rather than Jewish Heritage Night—but he homered into McCovey Cove in the first inning on Aug. 8 for 757, the 35th and final Splash Hit of his career. So if you have a ticket for Saturday’s game, don’t sell it just because LeBron will likely already have the record. You may still see history.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]