With a lay-up and-1 in the second quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets, LeBron James scored his 32,293rd career point and passed Michael Jordan for fourth on the all-time scoring list. James now trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant.
James entered Wednesday’s contest needing just 13 points to pass Jordan. Coming into tonight he had averaged 27.0 points in 41 games after missing five weeks with a groin injury that effectively took the Lakers out of playoff contention. But after losing for the fourth time in their last five games on Monday against the Clippers, James said he wasn’t planning on sitting out any games despite being on the cusp of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
James passed Jordan in 1,190 career games with a career average of 27.15 points per game, tied with Kevin Durant for fifth best in NBA history. Jordan scored his 32,292 points in 1,072 games - 118 fewer - with a career average of 30.12 points per game, the highest mark in NBA history.
The caveat with Jordan’s mark, of course, is that his career included missing out on almost all of two seasons in 1994 and 1995. He also returned to the game in 2002 after three years away from the game, playing two seasons in Washington while averaging 21.2 points per game for the Wizards at age 38 and 39.
Two stints in Cleveland that spanned 11 seasons meant that James did plenty of damage against the Bulls. Of those 32,293 career points, 1,567 came against the Bulls, or 4.8 percent of his career total, in 55 games. That was second most behind the Bucks; James has scored 1,604 points in 56 career games against Milwaukee.
James’ 28.5 point-per-game average is his fifth highest average against 30 NBA franchises, trailing only Boston (29.3), Utah (29.2), Seattle/Oklahoma City (28.8) and Milwaukee (28.6).
James has not played the Bulls this season, as he was nursing his injured groin when the Bulls traveled to Los Angeles last month. He should suit up next week when the Lakers come to town, and he’ll do so already having the scoring lead on Jordan in hand.
Here’s a few tidbits about James against the Bulls:
- James’ best shooting season against the Bulls came in 2012-13, his MVP season with the Heat. James shot 63.8 percent from the field in four games. His worst shooting performance was 8-for-14 (57.1%).
- James’ highest scoring season (average) was in 2007-08, when he averaged 35.7 points in four contests. His worst point total was 33, joining other game totals of 34, 37 and 39 points. Ironically he went 1-3 against the Bulls that season. The following year he won his first MVP.
- James has never relied on his 3-point shot, especially against the Bulls. In fact, the most 3-pointers he’s ever made in a season against the Bulls is the current year (8-for-15) and he still has a game left against Chicago in March. This current season is also the best James has shot from the charity stripe against the Bulls, going 15-for-17 (88 percent).
- James’ worst scoring season against the Bulls was in 2013-14, his final season in Miami. James scored 17, 21 and 17 points in three games, an average of 18.3 points. That year was the last time James has averaged 27 points per game in a season.
- But that year wasn’t the worst shooting season James had. That would have been his rookie season, when James shot 38 percent in four games against the Bulls. James shot 41.7 percent from the field that season, the only time in his career he’s ever made less than 47 percent of his shots.