LeBron James breaks NBA scoring record: Here are his top fantasy performances (based on real-life buckets scored)
The throne has a new King. LeBron James etched his name in the annals of NBA history as the new all-time leading points scorer on late Tuesday night, February 7, 2023. After 38 years of dominance by the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James has taken the crown, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest to ever step on the court.
This 20-year veteran, whose journey began as the "Kid from Akron," has spent two decades thrilling fans with his unparalleled talent, athleticism and longevity. With each game, he inches closer to his goal of becoming one of the greatest athletes of all time.
LeBron's impact on the court can be seen not just in the record books but in the advanced stats as well. He recently overtook Steve Nash to become fourth all-time in assists. His all-around dominance is evident in his ranking first in Value Over Replacement (VORP), Box Score Plus Minus (BPM), second in Win Shares, and third in Player Efficiency Rating.
These numbers only scratch the surface of the countless accolades and honors James has accumulated in his illustrious career. But this latest feat is particularly special, as even Kareem himself (according to Magic Johnson) believed this record would stand the test of time.
James amassed an impressive 38,388 career points to break the record, finishing Tuesday night's loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder with 38 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists (he now has 38,390 total points scored in his career).
To showcase his best performances, I will highlight his top-three fantasy games (based on real-life points scored on the court — minimum 45 points to meet the threshold). I'll close things out by also providing a complete list of his top 10 highest-scoring — headlined by buckets scored — fantasy games throughout his career.
Knicks fans, you may want to look away.
Note: All point totals are Yahoo default fantasy scoring
1. 92.7 fantasy points, Cleveland Cavaliers (130) at Washington Wizards (122) - November 3, 2017
The Cavs were in the midst of a four-game skid when James had one of the most dominant performances of his career in a victory over the Washington Wizards. James finished with 57 points (23-34 FG, 9-9 FT),11 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks (and 3 turnovers) for 92.7 fantasy points. The 57 points were the second-highest of his career.
Interestingly, his 61-point performance against the Bobcats as a member of the Miami Heat doesn't chart within his top 10 fantasy performances (more on those below).
This game also had significance because LeBron became the youngest player to reach 29,000 points scored and one of seven to score more than 29,000 points in his career. It's the only time James has scored over 90 fantasy points in a single game.
You know, the usual rare territory for LeGoat.
After rewatching the game, there's no difference between 32-year-old LeBron and now. He channeled his inner Z-Bo and bullied the Wizards all night in the post, scoring 32 of his 57 points in the paint — another career-high while achieving his 11th 50-point game.
Here's every bucket from this game:
Every made bucket from LeBron's 57 point performance for @cavs! #AllForOne pic.twitter.com/W3Zyen1iIB
— NBA (@NBA) November 4, 2017
2. 84.6 Fantasy Points, Cleveland Cavaliers (119) at New York Knicks (105) - March 5, 2008
Chants of "MVP… MVP!" reigned down in the Mecca after James delivered the fifth 50-point game of his career. He finished the game with 50 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds, 4 steals and only 2 turnovers for 84.6 fantasy points.
And what would this column be without more opportunities to show how LeBron continues to stack up amongst the best in history? James was the first player to score at least 50 points with 10 assists and eight rebounds in a game since Abdul-Jabbar on January 19, 1975. It has happened 14 times since then, with three occurrences this season alone — Donovan Mitchell and Luka Doncic (twice).
James even acknowledged how special the moment was, saying, "To get a standing ovation in the greatest basketball ring in the world, it was a dream come true for me. It's one of the best things to have ever happened to me."
Also, at that time, his 7 threes tied a career-high for James, and it could've been an even bigger night for LeBron — he missed five three throws, finishing 11-for-16 from the line in an otherwise spectacular performance where he dismantled the Knicks' defense, inside and out, for his first 50-point night in the Garden.
3. 82.3 fantasy points, Cleveland Cavaliers (107) at New York Knicks (102) - February 4, 2009
Less than a year after the second-best fantasy outing of LeBron's career, he went back to the Garden and led the 39-9 Cavs to a five-point win over the Knicks. Similar to his first 50-point night in New York, James was the first player to record a 50-point triple-double since, you guessed it, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He dropped 52 points (17-33 FG) with 10 rebounds and 11 assists, 2 blocks and 3 turnovers.
But, in a strange turn of events, David Stern controversially overturned James' historic achievement because of a statistical error. That's right — NBA officials rescinded one rebound from James after the Knicks scorekeepers mistakenly credited a Ben Wallace "Ben back-tap" to LeBron, leaving him with nine rebounds and no triple-double.
Meanwhile, Wally Szczerbiak (the guy who dared to hate on Tyrese Haliburton and ended up getting destroyed) accumulated 13 rebounds that night, which is the second-highest of his career — and many of those rebounds also were similarly tapped by Ben Wallace.
None of those rebounds were removed from Wally's stats, so why did this happen to LeBron? Conspiracy theorists would love to know.
Still, somehow James always wins, becoming the first player to have at least 52 points, 9 rebounds and 11 assists in a game since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. He finished with 82.3 fantasy points and the Knicks will go down as one of only three teams that James had multiple 50-point performances in his distinguished career. You can watch James put on a clinic against the Knicks that night here.
And a fun fact before rounding out his top-10 fantasy scoring performances: LeBron has the third-highest winning percentage of any player that's scored 50+ points on at least 10 occasions at 86% or 12-of-14 games.
Here are the remaining seven highest scoring fantasy lines of James' career:
4. 82.1 FPTS at Memphis Grizzlies, January 14, 2008
51 points, 8 rebounds 9 assists, 3 steals, 1 block and 4 turnovers
5. 81.3 FPTS at Sacramento Kings, March 13, 2009
51 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks and 3 turnovers
6. 79.2 FPTS at Orlando Magic, February 3, 2011
51 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 1 block and 4 turnovers
7. 78.6 FPTS vs New York Knicks, February 6, 2010
47 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals and 5 turnovers
8. 78,0 FPTS vs. Atlanta Hawks, December 30, 2009
48 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks and 3 turnovers
9. 77.5 FPTS at Toronto Raptors, March 20, 2005
56 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 4 turnovers
10. 76.9 FPTS vs. Miami Heat, April 1, 2006
47 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals and 4 turnovers
LeBron James' recent feat of surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's scoring record of 38,387 points, which stood for 34 years, is a testament to his sustained excellence and longevity in basketball.
Despite the game's evolution, LeBron has continued to thrive and his 27.2 points per game place him 5th on the all-time list. His reign as the all-time leading scorer will undoubtedly inspire future generations, and the basketball community will not forget his impact on the sport.
It's going to be a while before we see another player dethrone the King, solidifying LeBron James' rightful place in basketball history.