How many NBA seasons did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar play?

Kareem, LeBron

LeBron James did the unthinkable on Tuesday. His 38 points against the Thunder were enough to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the record books for most career regular-season points, a benchmark that stood for nearly four decades.

Abdul-Jabbar was present for the record-breaking performance at Arena and joined James on the court for a ceremony near the end of the third quarter. 

At 75, Abdul-Jabbar remains a towering figure around the NBA. Since retiring, the 7-footer has earned the reputation of a true Renaissance man for his involvement as an activist, occasional Hollywood star and government appointee, all while taking on the unofficial role to promote the NBA. 

Born in 1947 as Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr., he went by Lew Alcindor until 1971 when he converted to Islam and adopted the name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

His talent -- and height – were evident from a young age as he dominated the youth leagues in New York. He led Power Memorial Academy to three consecutive national high school championship appearances, winning his sophomore and junior seasons. 

Playing under John Wooden at UCLA, Abdul-Jabbar continued to electrify crowds, leading the Bruins to three straight national titles and setting countless scoring records that still stand today, including most points in a game (61), career points-per-game (26.4) and points in a single season (870).


This illustrious college career set the stage for a Hall of Fame career. 

When did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar enter the NBA?

The Milwaukee Bucks -- in only their second year of existence -- took Abdul-Jabbar with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1969 NBA Draft. He spent six seasons in Milwaukee, winning an NBA Championship in his second season, before returning to Los Angeles and winning five more titles with the Lakers.

When did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set the scoring record?

Abdul-Jabbar broke the scoring record on April 5, 1984 against the Utah Jazz. He played another five seasons and added nearly 7,000 points to the existing record.

Whose record did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar break in 1984?

The previous scoring record was held by none other than Wilt Chamberlain. Known for his 100-point performance, Chamberlain was a consistent scoring threat throughout his 14 seasons and ultimately amassed 31,419 career points.

Much like Abdul-Jabbar, Chamberlain ended his career with the Lakers. James is currently in the latter half of a two-year contract with the Lakers. He’s playing some of his best basketball at 38, but assuming he keeps playing for several years, will he follow suit and stay in Los Angeles? 

How long did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record stand for?

James' record-breaking performance came nearly 39 years after Abdul Jabbar’s. 

How did LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record-breaking careers differ in terms of shot selection?

One of the main criticisms against James is the advantage of the 3-point line in today’s game. It was introduced midway through Abdul-Jabbar’s career, but it was used sparingly as a last-ditch effort for many teams. 

Abdul-Jabbar was 1-for-18 from beyond the arc over the course of 10 seasons. James, meanwhile, has 2,237 regular season 3-pointers, good for ninth all-time.

To put this in perspective, Abdul-Jabbar’s lone 3-pointer accounted for less than eight one-hundredths of his point total. Meanwhile, James can credit the 3-point line for 17.48% of his points.  

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. LeBron James: Head-to-Head statistics


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

LeBron James

Career Points



Seasons Played



Games Played