NBA Hoops

Whom will LeBron James join?

Whom will LeBron James join?

Somewhere along his path toward becoming the NBA’s all-time scoring leader, LeBron James reached the ultimate state of being as an offensive force: unguardable.

“Early on, it was a lot of just speed and jumping and then figuring it out,” James said in January, looking back at his career the day after he joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only other player in league history to put up 38,000 career points. “And you get smarter and smarter, you say, ‘Teams know they can key on these things, so how can I make sure that I am unguardable and can always put myself in position where I do what I want to do and not what the defense wants me to do?'”

Through regular-season losses and playoff-series exits when opposing defenses targeted the holes in James’ game, the eventual four-time MVP and four-time champion was handed a cheat sheet to know what to work on.

“There were times where I didn’t really have a low-post game — I wasn’t a low-post threat,” James told ESPN. “There were times when I wasn’t a threat from the midrange. There were times when I wasn’t a threat from the outside. There were times when you literally could just try to bait me into doing things that I wasn’t great at.

“I’ve evolved into where I do what I want to do on the floor. And I take the shot that I want to take.”

As much as James’ game has evolved as a scorer in the 20 seasons he’s spent in the NBA, consider the dramatic transformation of professional basketball as a whole. When the league launched in November 1946, the Boston Celtics had more players on their roster shorter than 6 foot (three) than it had taller than 6-6 (two). There was a narrower lane. No dunks. No 3s. The official box score didn’t even tally rebounds, assists, blocks or steals.

But it always kept track of the points — and who was responsible for them. As James marches toward the scoring summit — needing fewer than 300 points to set the record — here’s a look at the seven players to hold that torch before him.

Note: The years listed for each player are the years he was atop the scoring list.


Joe Fulks: 1946-1952

He was the first to wear the NBA scoring crown, winning back-to-back scoring titles in his first two seasons in the league with the Philadelphia Warriors. The two-time All-Star and 1947 champion scored 8,003 points in his eight-year career, playing power forward and standing 6-5, 190 pounds.

The league was a…

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