The 3-pointer's impact on LeBron's NBA scoring record chase

LeBron James has made 2,187 3-pointers in his career, 10th in NBA history. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

LeBron James is expected to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA's career leader in points scored in the regular season later this season (potentially as early as February), but one record he won't touch for a while is Abdul-Jabbar's mark for made baskets. While James is less than 800 points away from Abdul-Jabbar's record of 38,387, King James still trails the king of the skyhook by more than 2,000 field goals.

Given that gap, how has James closed the mark in points so quickly? Easy. The 3-point shot.

Abdul-Jabbar entered the NBA in 1969 a full 10 years before the NBA even added a 3-point line. Even once the 3-pointer came into existence, it was rarely used throughout the remainder of Abdul-Jabbar's career, especially for a big man. He attempted just 18 in his final 10 seasons, making one. If that basket had counted for 2 points rather than 3 (as every other basket in his career did), he'd still be 795 points ahead of James.

However, while James entered a league dominated by Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan and other powerful big men who forced the gravity of action in and around the low post, he now plies his trade in a league more obsessed with the 3-point shot than ever, and his ability to adapt on the fly in the midst of a pace-and-space revolution that turned pro basketball inside out is a huge reason he's on the precipice of history.