With a 44-point explosion on Wednesday evening, LeBron James surpassed Wilt Chamberlain for fifth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Given the incredible scoring ability of Chamberlain over 14 NBA seasons, it is remarkable when any player surpasses the legendary big man in a category centered on points and, given the potential for James to keep compiling amazing statistics into his mid-30’s, it is jarring to see what the 33-year-old might be capable of in the future.
To commemorate the occasion, many weighed in with congratulations for James. To that end, the NBA released a lengthy video to honor the work of both James and Chamberlain, evaluating the two players in almost side-by-side fashion from their national breakout and through their NBA journeys.
Throughout the (excellent) video, parallels are drawn between the paths of Chamberlain and James. Both faced immense pressure as highly touted high school athletes, both are considered to be in rarified in terms of raw athleticism and, in keeping with that physical prowess, both are recognized for conditioning and body care at a tremendous level.
From there, James and Chamberlain each starred for multiple teams, with each ending up in Los Angeles as centerpieces of one of the league’s flagship franchises. While it would be virtually unthinkable for any NBA player in the modern era to match Chamberlain’s per-game statistical production, the brilliance of James, in varying ways, stands worthy when compared with the all-time great center and the video does a strong job in capturing that spirit.
By the end of his NBA career, James will almost certainly join the top three (alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone) in all-time scoring, with the potential to set the all-time mark with extended longevity. There are more milestones to come but, for a younger generation, the opportunity to see James alongside Chamberlain, even on film, is captivating.