With a tribute to Kobe Bryant written on his Nikes, LeBron James moved past the retired Los Angeles great for third place on the NBA's career scoring list, scoring 29 points in the Lakers' 108-91 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
James scribbled "Mamba 4 Life" as he chased Bryant, the five-time champion, in Philly. James scored the milestone basket with 7:23 left in the third quarter. James entered 18 points shy of passing Bryant, and the layup gave him 33,644 points. James stands third with 33,655. Bryant finished his career with 33,643, all with the Lakers.
James waved to the Philadelphia crowd that gave him a rousing standing ovation when the mark was announced by the public address announcer. The Sixers also posted a graphic of the NBA's top 10 career scorers with images of James in Lakers and Miami Heat jerseys.
The 35-year-old James entered averaging at least 25 points (25.2 ppg) for the 16th straight season and has played 44 games this season. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA's career scoring leader with 38,387 points and Karl Malone is second at 36,928. James is on pace to pass Abdul-Jabbar in about three seasons. The top four scorers in NBA history played for the Lakers, who signed James as a free agent in 2018.
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James passed Bryant in Philadelphia, where the retired Lakers star was born. James, who played in eight consecutive NBA Finals, has 6,911 postseason points with Cleveland and Miami that do not count in the official total.
James' magic number and Anthony Davis' 31 points weren't enough to help the Lakers.
Ben Simmons had 29 points and 10 rebounds and Tobias Harris scored 29 points. The Sixers improved to 6-3 since they lost All-Star center Joel Embiid with a torn ligament on a finger in his left hand. Embiid hoped to return as soon as next week.
The Sixers led by 22 and watched that lead shrink to five in the fourth quarter. Al Horford, the underachieving free agent pickup, buried a 3 that pushed the lead back to 10 and had the packed crowd rocking. Horford hit a mid-range jumper and Simmons, who lost a tooth at some point in the first half, scored on a layup that gave the 76ers needed breathing room to seal the win.
James reached the mark against 76ers coach Brett Brown, who was an assistant in San Antonio when the Spurs swept Cleveland for the title and again when the Heat beat the Spurs.
"Just as a fan, you step back and just watch his body of work, no matter where he goes it's off the chart unique. He does it with class," Brown said before the game. "Amongst all his success and the attention he receives on a daily basis, he doesn't seem to blink. He's got character, he lives right, he acts right, he's arguably the greatest player to ever play our sport."
Let the debate rage on which Laker was the greatest, The King or Black Mamba. But there's no denying that James, a four-time NBA MVP with a 3-6 career mark in the NBA Finals, now looms above Bryant on the scoring list.
Lakers: JaVale McGee missed a second straight game with flu-like symptoms.
Sixers: G Josh Richardson sat out again with a strained left hamstring. ... G Zhaire Smith, called up from G League with Richardson out, left his first game of the season with a sprained left ankle. ... Hall of Famer Allen Iverson, rapper Gucci Mane, Phillies manager Joe Girardi and a handful of Philadelphia Eagles were at the game.
Lakers: Return home Tuesday to play the Clippers.
76ers: Host Golden State on Tuesday night.