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LeBron James becomes 7th member of 30,000-point club

SAN ANTONIO -- For a player who never identified himself as a "scorer," LeBron James has sure found himself in elite company among the most potent offensive threats in NBA history.

James' jumper with 1.1 seconds remaining in the first quarter of the Cleveland Cavaliers' game against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday gave him eight points for the game and 30,001 points for his career. He is the seventh player to enter the 30,000-point club and also the youngest at 33 years and 24 days, besting Kobe Bryant's previous mark (34 years and 104 days).

He finished with 28 points on 10-of-23 shooting from the field in the Cavaliers' 114-102 loss to the Spurs, upping his total to 30,021.

Along with Bryant, who is third all-time in scoring with 33,643 points, James joined all-time points leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Michael Jordan (32,292), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) and Dirk Nowitzki (30,837 and counting) in the exclusive crew.

"It's not up there in, I guess, the goals I set out for myself to be in this league," James said as he was approaching the plateau. "I definitely looked at the list, and saw the list, and seen -- of all the guys that have played in this league and the number of guys that have played in this league -- it's definitely a select few.

"It's a select company. So in that right, it's special. ... But I can honestly sit here and say that I've never set out to set scoring records or be a part of a scoring club."

Going into Tuesday's game needing just seven points to reach the career milestone, James took to Instagram earlier in the day to congratulate himself in a post that read like a letter to his younger self.

LeBron James hit a pull-up jumper over the Spurs' Danny Green at the end of the first quarter to eclipse the 30,000-point mark for his career. Eric Gay/AP Photo
"Congratulations to LeBron on reaching 30,000 points," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "Yet another milestone in an extraordinary career that continues to inspire."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich also reflected on the achievement prior to Tuesday's game.

"It's an awesome achievement, but what else do you say about LeBron that we haven't said many times before?" Popovich said. "Just a great, great competitor and a great player."

James is averaging 27 points per game this season, his highest scoring average since 2013-14 when he played for the Miami Heat. In a win against the Washington Wizards in November, James scored 57 points -- the second-highest single-game scoring total of his 15-year career.

He needed 25 points on Saturday to reach the milestone at home, but he finished with just 18 in a 148-124 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"I'm not a player who sets out to say, 'OK, I need to dominate scoring,'" James said. "For me, if you know my career, I try to dominate in all facets -- rebounding, assisting, defending, getting some blocked shots, chasing down and I'm going to sprinkle in some scoring as well. But I'm not a ... when you categorize who I am as a basketball player, it won't say 'scorer.'

"There's too much more attributes to my game, and then you can talk about scoring as well. I'm joining elite company. When I walk into the 30 [thousand] point club, they're going to look at me like, 'What are you doing here?' I ain't supposed to be there."

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, who by comparison's sake scored 4,710 points in his 11-year career, said James' unselfishness sticks out the most with him reaching the achievement.

"When he came into the league, they talked about he was a pass-first guy, a guy who passed the basketball, he was known for making guys better," Lue said. "But to make guys better and still score 30,000 points, that's a great achievement."

If James averages 20 points per game and plays 70 games a season, he would need approximately five more seasons to pass Abdul-Jabbar for No. 1.

Is The King targeting The Captain?

"No. No. I haven't," James said. "As far as stats go in my career, I've never thought about catching anybody. And I guess it's just allowed me to be able to have feats that I can accomplish. I've never given myself a ceiling or a threshold of where I want to go.

"Listen, I've been blessed to play this game and this is my 15th year and everything for me is kind of extra credit at this point. For me to be able to get past Year 1 or Year 2 or Year 3, get past my rookie contract and do the things that I've done, I just appreciate that I can play this game at the level that I'm doing still."

Dwyane Wade, who was also on James' team in Miami when he became the youngest player to reach 20,000 points, offered a prediction of where James will finish on the all-time scoring list.

"Well, if he stays healthy and he plays as long as he wants to play, No. 1 or No. 2," Wade told ESPN. "I definitely think that with his game and his body, he's going to average 20 points in this league as long as he wants to and wants to play. So, if not [No.] 1, he's definitely going to be No. 2."

Author: Dave McMenamin, ESPN
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