In case you somehow hadn’t heard by now, LeBron James entered Tuesday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder needing 36 points to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career NBA scoring record of 38,387. And in case you hadn’t heard the follow-up to that news, he broke it late in the third quarter and ended with 38 points on the night.
After the game, James fielded questions and praise from TNT’s panel of Shaquille O’Neal, Candace Parker, Jamal Crawford and Adam Lefkoe. As the postgame interview wound down, James’ former teammate, O’Neal, directed a final question toward the NBA’s new king of scoring: Does this accomplishment make him the greatest to ever play?
“I said at the beginning of this show, I wish that I would’ve had this moment, the chance to pass up Kareem,” O’Neal began. “You now have passed up Kareem. I know what my attitude would’ve been. Does this now make you the greatest player of all time? Are you now the GOAT?”
.@SHAQ: “Does this now make you the greatest player of all time?”@KingJames: “I’m gonna take myself against anybody that’s ever played this game. … I always feel like I’m the best to ever play this game.” pic.twitter.com/5mzrZ59GTG
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— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 8, 2023
Initially, James chuckled at O’Neal’s inquiry and didn’t address it directly.
“I’m gonna let everybody else decide who that is,” James said. “But it’s great barbershop talk.”
O’Neal wouldn’t allow for that.
“No, no. I wanna hear you say it, Bron Bron,” O’Neal interjected with a smile. “Say it with your chest, Bron, Bron.”
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Finally, James relented cautiously.
“I’m gonna take myself against anybody who’s ever played this game,” James said. “But everyone’s gonna have their favorite. Everyone’s gonna decide who their favorite is. But I know what I’ve brought to the table. … I always feel like I’m the best to ever play this game, but there’s so many other great ones that I’m happy to just be a part of their journey.”
Amid a night full of celebration for James, wrapping up his on-court presence with some playful commentary from a former teammate was quite fun. The two clearly enjoyed it, especially O’Neal, who delighted in pressing his friend on the topic.