LeBron James surpassed 40,000 career points during Saturday night’s home game between his Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, further solidifying his place in the NBA record books.

James, who has held the pro-basketball league’s record for most career points since last year, was within 9 points of the achievement going into the game. A layup in the second quarter had James reach 40,000 points, and another layup ensured he surpassed the mark.

James’ presence wasn’t a certainty Saturday night, though.

On Friday, the NBA echoed a report by LakersNation.com stating that the Lakers had listed James as questionable for the Nuggets game because of pain and swelling in his left ankle. But James has been known to play, and play well, regardless of how he’s listed.

Lakers fans basked in another James high mark, but play for his home state’s Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as for the Miami Heat, contributed to his career total.

With another milestone, his 40th birthday, coming later this year, James’ superlative performances have come amid what is retirement age for almost any pro athlete.

In February, James became the first NBA player to start in 20 All-Star games, this year as captain of the West. He scored 8 points in a self-limited 14 minutes of play as the East prevailed 211-186.

“The most important thing for me is definitely my health,” James said at the time.

He’s played more minutes than any other NBA player, past or present, and upon his expected return next season, he’ll match Vince Carter, eight-time All-Star and retired Toronto Raptors guard-forward, for most seasons: 22.

But despite the plethora of accomplishments, he still has professional goals.

James has said he wants to play in the NBA with his sons, University of Southern California combo guard Bronny, a college freshman, and Sierra Canyon School shooting guard Bryce, a high school sophomore.

On Feb. 7, 2023, James scored his 38,388th point in a home game against the Oklahoma Thunder, surpassing former Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 points. The achievement elevated him to the all-time top scorer position.

After Thursday’s Lakers win over the Washington Wizards 134-131 in overtime, James suggested reaching 40,000 is another metaphorical offspring of his career — precious, but not nearly as significant as his first-born, besting Abdul-Jabbar’s total.

“No one has ever done it,” he said of scoring 40,000 career points at the postgame news conference on Thursday. “For me to be in this position at this point in time in my career, I think it’s pretty cool. Does it sit at the top of the things I’ve done in my career? No. Does it mean something? Of course. Absolutely. Why wouldn’t it?”

Remaining the league’s all-time points leader isn’t guaranteed.

Among today’s top 10 career scorers, there’s only one other active player — Kevin Durant of the Phoenix Suns — who had 38,113 points through Friday and, at 35, may have plenty of points ahead.

A number of younger players may be building a challenge to James’ record as the world considers his legacy, as well.

Slovenian forward-guard Luka Dončić of the Dallas Mavericks was the 2023-24 season’s leading scorer. On Christmas night, a 3-pointer against the Phoenix Suns pushed him past 10,000 career NBA points. On Wednesday, he turned 25.

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 25; the Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo, 29; the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell Jr., 27; and Durant completed the list of the season’s top-five scorers.

On Thursday, James’ 31-point performance helped the Lakers prevail against the Wizards, and it got him within nine points of the 40,000 points mark.

At the postgame news conference, James noted that he still has the job of all-time scorer, and he made it clear he will defend his fortress of points.

“It was never a goal of mine when I came into the league, like I wanted to be the all-time leading scorer,” he said.

“But I’m still playing, so …,” he trailed off.

“It’s going to continue to go up,” he said of his career total, “until I’m done playing.”

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