Los Angeles, Feb. 8 (U.S.): LeBron James has thrived under tremendous pressure his entire adult life. An arena filled with the celebrity, his entire family, and thousands of raucous Lakers fans who demanded to see a piece of NBA history that King couldn’t handle.
James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA record Tuesday night in a star-studded arena rocked by excited fans anticipating the crowning moment of his 20-year career, the Associated Press reports.
“Thank you so much for letting me be a part of something I always dreamed of,” said James.
The crowd cheered with every point as he headed towards the mark that Abdul-Jabbar had held since April 1984, who watched the game from a starting bench near the bench in Los Angeles.
James’s mother, wife and three children watched from the field amid thousands who woke up in waves of anticipation almost every time James touched the ball.
With a quick jumper late in the third quarter, James had the necessary 36 points to surpass Abdul-Jabbar’s record 38,387 points. And the crowd that was roaring over his every basket is crazy again.
With four championship rings and nearly every honor available to a basketball player, the 38-year-old James sealed this next moment in history with the confidence of a player who was even better than anyone could have guessed two decades ago when the kid from Akron, Ohio, made it to the NBA. .
“The expectations were all the way to Pluto, and he’s gone ahead and made his own galaxy,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said before the game.
The crowd was seated much earlier than usual in Los Angeles, and James got several standing ovations before the Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder rolled over. The fans then stood when he touched the ball on the Lakers’ opening possession, and groaned as he missed his first two shots and elected to pass.
Every Lakers possession seemed burdened with anticipation, and James always thrived under that pressure: He hit a three-pointer with 7:06 remaining in the first quarter in his first bucket, and kept playing after suffering an unintentional blow to the face. Elbow moments later.
The night was another great memory for fans lucky enough to be in a building that has hosted a wealth of basketball history in less than a quarter of a century.
Lakers fans are no strangers to witnessing historic moments, and they turned furiously for the chance to see a once-in-a-generation feat.
The moment was irresistible for fans like Aaron Sanchez, one of the hundreds of loyal Lakers men who don the jersey and take turns patiently in front of the statue of Abdul-Jabbar that stands in the square in front of the Lakers arena in downtown.
Sanchez shares a bundle of two season tickets with a few friends and family, and he already had seats for Game Tuesday months before anyone could predict the magical day.
He turned down a friend’s offer of $200 to swap seats for the Thunder, but he’s out of luck if James waits until Thursday to break the record, because those tickets belong to a different friend.
“It’s the history of basketball and that’s what the Lakers are about,” Sanchez said. “LeBron is already one of the greatest Lakers of all time, and having that record in a Lakers uniform makes it even more certain. He was our leader after Kobe (Bryant) died, and he’s our leader now.”
In fact, James has already earned a special place in the hearts of Lakers fans during his five seasons in the purple and gold. Several months before he won the franchise’s 17th championship in the Florida bubble, he became part of Lakers lore with his inspiring words and unwavering leadership in the wake of Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash.
Inside the building, dozens of celebrities have gathered to witness history: Denzel Washington, Jay Z, Bad Bunny, LL Cool J, Usher, Andy Garcia and countless others. Dozens of basketball greats also attended, including Lakers champions James Worthy and Bob McAdoo along with Dwyane Wade.
The biggest star in the crowd was Abdul-Jabbar, who verbally sparred with James in public over issues not directly related to basketball. The Lakers legend known to all as Cap was not about to miss out on history.