NBA

LeBron James hails Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and mum Gloria as NBA record inspirations

By Sports Desk February 10, 2023

LeBron James said it felt "surreal" to see his name up in lights as the NBA all-time record points scorer, revealing the heroes who inspired his journey to the top of basketball.

The 38-year-old addressed the crowd at Crypto.com Arena on Thursday night, telling them how Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant had been long-time inspirations, while hailing his mother Gloria and wife Savannah.

With 38 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, James moved to 38,390 in his regular season career, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's long-standing record of 38,387.

Coming up for 20 years as an NBA player, the former Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat star is in the fifth year of his Lakers stint.

He told of how his journey to the summit of professional sports came against all odds, being founded on his admiration for great men of basketball and the powerful women in his life.

"Growing up in a small town of Akron, Ohio, in an underprivileged single-parent household, only child, you feel like you're never going to make it out," James said.

"You feel like the statistics are built up against you, you feel like the system is built against you to not succeed, you feel like there's no way you're going to have an opportunity for your dreams to become a reality, and I didn't allow those moments to deter me from my dreams.

"I had dreams every day of playing in the NBA, I had dreams every day of being an inspiration to so many people.

"I had dreams of one day being able to throw no-look passes like Magic Johnson, to be able to shoot fadeaways like Michael Jordan, to be able to have a cross-over like Allen Iverson, to be able to have an afro and jump in a dunk contest like Kobe Bryant.

"I looked up to so many athletes and so many people along my journey, and they gave me the inspiration and allowed my dream to not die.

"I always felt it was my job and my responsibility to come out and play the game at a high level and be as great as I can be, because there is a kid in the inner city somewhere that's looking for inspiration and is going to need it and maybe get it from me."

James sat out the Lakers' 115-106 home loss to the high-flying Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night, making his speech before the game.

With his mother and wife with him on the court floor, James said: "As I look up at this jumbotron and seeing the 'NBA all-time leading scorer', it's so surreal to me. But the one thing I know for sure is I never cheated a game of basketball and I would never cheat in a game of basketball because it's given so much to myself, given so much to my family.

"My beautiful wife is the real MVP if you want to be completely honest, she's the all-time leading scorer. My family is everything to me, and you guys [in the Lakers crowd] over the last five years have become family to me as well.

"Every night I step on the floor, I understand I truly have a huge responsibility and understand what it means to represent the Los Angeles Lakers when I step on this floor, so thank you so much."

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