LeBron James' record-setting moment with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar drew record engagement, viewership

LeBron James’ historic night on Tuesday drew record numbers.

About 3 million people tuned in to watch James and the Los Angeles Lakers host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, when James surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. The game was the most-watched regular season game on TNT, other than an opening night game, in nearly five years, the league announced Wednesday.

The game peaked at 3.7 million viewers right around when James officially passed Abdul-Jabbar late in the third quarter. The game and historic moment also generated around 225 million video views on the NBA’s social and digital platforms, which is the most ever in a regular season game.

James officially passed Abdul-Jabbar’s long-standing record of 38,387 points, which he set in 1984, on Tuesday night with a fadeaway jumper in the final seconds of the third quarter at Arena. It sparked a massive celebration on the court, one fitting of the moment.

The Lakers ended up losing the game, which had to resume somewhat awkwardly after the court cleared from the ceremony. Viewership dropped off soon after, too. But given that it took nearly 40 years to break the record, it’s no wonder so many people tuned into the game.

LeBron James
About 3 million people watched LeBron James and the Lakers' game against the Thunder on Tuesday night, the most for a TNT regular season game — other than an opening night — in almost five years. (Wally Skalji/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)