The Cleveland Cavaliers host the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, with LeBron James expected back in the lineup after sitting out Tuesday’s loss to the Rockets. While Cleveland’s primary focus will be getting back on track after blowing a 20-point lead in the loss to Houston, James can also make some history.
James enters with 26,665 career points and needs just four points to pass Dominique Wilkins for 12th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Considering he has scored fewer than four points just once in his entire career -- three points on Dec. 29, 2004, if you’re curious -- we’ll consider it a lock.
But Wilkins isn’t the only player being closely pursued by James. He needs 46 points to pass Oscar Robertson for 11th on the list. He has scored 46 or more points 21 times in his career, including the regular season and playoffs, but hasn’t done so in any of his past 171 games. Coincidentally, the last time he scored that many points was on May 12, 2015, against the Nets.
Wilkins and Robertson are merely the next two victims on an impressive list of players that James has passed this season. Here's a look at The King’s rise up the scoring list this season:
Nov. 17: James passed Jerry West for 19th. He scored 30 points on 11-of-21 shooting in a five-point loss to the Pistons. West played in 932 career games in 14 seasons. In his 13th season, James passed West in his 922nd career game.
Nov. 25: James passed Reggie Miller for 18th. James dropped 24 points in yet another loss, this one to the Toronto Raptors. James tied Miller on a 3-pointer. While James reigns supreme in points, he can’t touch Miller on 3s, as he ranks 30th in career 3-pointers made, more than 1,200 fewer than Miller, who is second behind only Ray Allen.
Dec. 28: James passed Alex English for 17th. He scored 14 points in a win over the Suns. James and English each has a single scoring title (points per game). English twice led the NBA in total points scored, something James has never done.
Feb. 3: James passed Kevin Garnett for 16th. He scored 23 points in a loss to the Hornets. Including the regular season and playoffs, those two have squared off 60 times, playing to almost a dead heat. James has won 31 of the 60 meetings.
Feb. 10: James passed Paul Pierce for 15th, scoring 29 in a win over the Lakers. Pierce played a starring role in one of the most memorable postseason moments in James’ career. In Game 7 of the 2008 Eastern Conference finals, Pierce scored 41 points in a win over James, who scored 45 for the Cavaliers.
March 5: James passed Tim Duncan for 14th. He scored 28 points and finished two assists shy of a triple-double in a win over the Celtics. Both have reached the NBA Finals six times, with three of them coming against each other. Duncan is 5-1 in the Finals; James is 2-4.
March 7: James passed John Havlicek for 13th. In a loss to a short-handed Grizzlies team, James scored 28 points and dropped to 3-4 in games this season when he has moved up the scoring list. There are just three degrees of separation between the two legends. James played against Kobe Bryant, who played against Robert Parish, who played against Havlicek.
Once James moves past Robertson, his next target is Hakeem Olajuwon. That will get James into the top 10, although he’s a long shot to get there this season, as he would need to average 35.2 points per game in Cleveland’s final eight games.