With LeBron James eclipsing Kareem’s scoring mark, Lakers fans should take a moment to enjoy the moment
It makes sense that the only thing here in Los Angeles with the real power to temporarily freeze and silence all the drama created by a distraught LeBron James team is, in fact, a LeBron James act of absolute grandeur.
This season, the Lakers have given off a banal basketball buzz — a low frequency of frustration sent out by so much mediocrity and angst: the drama of Russell Westbrook. Anthony Davis’ injury is now in the past but still impactful. Future first-round picks that will or will not be traded. LeBron’s constant, passive-aggressive attempts to force his team’s hand on the matter, prompting a rival general manager to fire CBS Sports, “Everyone knows he wants those picks traded for help. — he should just do what anyone would do and have the courage to say it out loud.”
This Lakers team led by LeBron is 24-28, a modest 13th in the tight Western Conference, is a team of possibility – like so many others who switch between the lottery spot, the play-in or a place in the playoffs – are locked in the noise of a King James side falling below their supposed royal standard.
But that noise, for a while at least, is about to stop. Because LeBron’s pursuit of Michael Jordan is about to be supercharged by chasing another all-time great.
Just 89 points from here, as you surely know, LeBron will reign as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. This moment will take the Lakers from a team of disappointments to one that will reach out and touch the very tip of hoops greatness.
For at least one night, banality will be replaced by bravado. Frustration for the party. A feeling of mediocrity at best for a moment of real and deserved basketball glory.
Will it be enough freedom from the angst — enough joy and positivity — to spark a Lakers revival and a run by the end of the season? May be. Maybe not. An NBA championship probably won’t follow.
But a reminder of a sentiment – purple and gold sitting at the center of the basketball universe, the game’s most talked about team emanating again from downtown Los Angeles, the entire NBA turning its often jaded and jealous eye to the Lakers — — will resurface, albeit temporarily.
Winning, of course, is cool. But so does watching a great Laker hold sports history in his hand.
Casually but confidently, Lakers sources are speculating that come what may, LeBron will and always will break that record under the rafters where No. 33 resides. He is now on pace, at his current rate, to surpass the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record 38,387 points at home next week.
Members of the Lakers organization expect their star to score enough points in the next two road games in Indiana and New Orleans to ensure Kareem’s mark is eclipsed at home against Oklahoma City next Tuesday, or – more likely – two days later in a nationally televised game against Milwaukee, which is both Kareem’s original NBA team and the current star Bucks’ club , Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will face LeBron as the other All-Star Game captain later this month.
This passing of the torch will be accompanied by a necessary respite after a long season and, for a while, a brief respite after so much noise.
Russ “let’s have fun” disconnected for LeBron? Fix it later. The brutal construction of the roster? History doesn’t care. AD-as-Humpty-Dumpty anxiety? Worry later. The official? Even they can’t whistle (or fail) on this one. What LeBron is about to achieve is truly, utterly astounding.
The Lakers, his fans, and the rest of us can just enjoy this moment while keeping curious about what will happen in six weeks — or six months — from LeBron’s 38,388th point.
There is precedent for this, for great Laker weaving magic from an otherwise disappointing season.
On April 13, 2016, a 17-win Lakers season was coming to a merciful end. I was at Staples Center that night, Kobe Bryant’s last, and any jokes, smirks or skepticism from that season evaporated as Kobe rolled back the years and racked up the points — 60 of them.
It was his mark, the number that, as the game progressed, seemed inevitable, blow after blow, one reminder after another of Kobe’s place in the game and how such a beautiful moment can turn out. flourish in all its glory even in the most neglected garden of a season.
It was a goodbye, yes, and so different from what LeBron will claim when he becomes the NBA’s new all-time record standard bearer. But the effect can be the same: A disappointing Lakers season can still have a moment of wonder of an all-time great bond with their all-time greatness, lighting up the arena in a way losing teams rarely do. .
That evening, Kobe sat in a crowded post-game press conference, beaming with joy, beaming with greatness, surrounded by so many reporters mesmerized by what he had just done and how it summed up such a remarkable career. and brilliant.
Something similar awaits us all in the coming week. And once LeBron does — once he takes first place, and the glow of what that means spreads across the league on a historic night — maybe a similar kind of joy can recalibrate this Lakers season, as long as the sentiment lasts.