Fans would stand and cheer every time LeBron James touched the ball. The Lakers’ fan base wasn’t only hoping for a win. Fans planned for months, monitored flight times, and spent hundreds of dollars to see the Lakers star, LeBron James, attempt to break the NBA’s all-time scoring record. He didn’t let them down on Tuesday night at Crypto.
com Arena when he surpassed Kareem Abdul-record Jabbar’s with a fadeaway jumper against the Oklahoma City Thunder with 10.9 seconds remaining in the third quarter. James scored 38 points to give him 38,390 for his career as the Lakers lost 133-130.
To break Abdul-record Jabbar’s of 38,387 points, James needed to score 36 points. He did so with a layup, and he ran down the court with his arms out wide to celebrate. He raised his arms up toward the ceiling, then knelt down, clasping his hands behind his back. James proceeded toward the basket and gestured toward the Lakers bench, where Abdul-Jabbar was seated, along the baseline.
On the court for an in-game presentation with LeBron James and NBA commissioner Adam Silver was Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar put an arm around James’ waist and held up one finger for the camera as the two Lakers superstars posed for a photo. Next, he tapped James on the shoulder.
James, with tears in his eyes, asked for a standing ovation for the captain during an emotional spontaneous address in which he thanked his family and the fans. Thousand Oaks native Todd Rastegar sat only a few seats behind Adbul-Jabbar.
The Lakers fan has been there from the Showtime era all the way through Kobe Bryant’s reign. He was watching on television when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar surpassed Wilt Chamberlain’s record, and he was surprised. A 14-year-old Lakers fan named Adrian told him last year that James was on pace to shatter the record this season. Adrian was wearing a gold No. 6 James jersey.
The senior Rastegar, who spent $1,100 two months ago to secure two seats to Tuesday’s game, called the price “nearly incomprehensible.” The very thought of this is beyond my comprehension. As far as I’m concerned, that solidifies his status as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of all time.
Robert Hulbert, age 20, has no doubt about who the King is. The New Jersey native flew up from Miami, where he is majoring in accounting, to make the case that James will not only break the scoring record but also become the NBA’s all-time leader in assists. James ranks in the top five of both categories, and he is the only player in NBA history to do so.
Hulbert requested his mother, Lisa, for a unique gift for his 21st birthday. He has been a fan of James’s since he was 10 years old, when he witnessed James lead the Miami Heat to a Game 7 Eastern Conference finals win over the Boston Celtics in 2012. Being present while James set the record was his sole desire.
Lisa has been keeping tabs on James’ scoring since December, and she thinks the greatest bet is on February 7 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tickets in the fourth row behind the bench were purchased. It was a mere three days before Robert turned twenty-one.
As James got closer to the record on Tuesday, demand for last-minute tickets skyrocketed. Numerous famous people showed up to Crypto.com Arena. Players like Bad Bunny, Shannon Sharpe, Denzel Washington, LL Cool J, and Dwyane Wade lined the court.
Hulbert wouldn’t have attended Thursday’s game if James hadn’t won, when the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Milwaukee Bucks. His red-eye landed early Tuesday morning, and he left late that night. On Wednesday morning, she would have returned to New Jersey to join him.
Every time James took the ball up the court or neared the score table, the tens of thousands of fans who paid thousands of dollars to see the most revered NBA record collapse could be heard and felt screaming their desperation.
Fans in the upper levels of the arena who mistook James’ first shot for a goal cheered wildly before slinking back to their seats when they learned that Anthony Davis had scored on a put-back. After the officials ruled that James was fouled before he could make what would have been another basket, the crowd booed.
Davon Hill, who was rooting for James to break the record on Tuesday, flew out to Los Angeles from Atlanta that morning and had a return flight scheduled to leave at around 1 a.m. Hill, who became a Lakers fan after seeing Bryant play, resented the early comparisons to James.
He was a die-hard Bryant supporter. He eventually came around, though, especially after James joined the Lakers and helped them win their 17th championship. Hill remarked, “What he did when he first entered the league, he’s still doing now, in his 20th season.”
Just from observing people, I get the impression that many of them can identify with his demeanor. In a nutshell, he personifies success. He’s triumphed at being a dad, a husband, a businessman, and a basketball player.