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Highest Points Scorers in NBA History

5. Michael Jordan (32,292)

Arguably the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan opens up the top five with 32,292 points. He spent 13 years with the Chicago Bulls, winning six championships and six Finals MVPs. Within that, he took a year and a half away from the sport and signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. After he returned to the Bulls in 1995, he spent another three years with the franchise before announcing his retirement for a second time. However, he ended up playing a further two seasons with the Washington Wizards, where he added 3,015 points to his career total.

The star posted his career high in 1990 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, scoring 69 points on 37 attempts. His 37.1 points per game in 1986/87 is the most of any player not named Wilt Chamberlain.

Jordan’s 15-year career was full of success, with his overall accolades making him the most decorated player ever. In addition to his six championships and Finals MVPs, he also won five regular season MVP awards and was a 14-time all-star. In addition to his Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards, he was also the league’s leading scorer in 10 different seasons, which is an all-time record.

His final retirement came in 2003, at age 40. His stats had declined considerably, but he was able to record 22.9 and 20 points per game during his last two years with the Wizards. Despite his best years being behind him, he was still playing significant minutes, averaging 37 per game in the 02/03 season.

4. Kobe Bryant (33,643)

The late, great Kobe Bryant is fourth on this list with 33,643 points in 1,346 games. He spent his entire career with the LA Lakers, which spanned from 1996 to 2016.

His famous 81-point game against the Raptors in 2006 was the highest in a career where he averaged 25 points per game. This is the second most points scored in a single NBA game behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962.

Bryant enjoyed an extremely successful career, winning five championships and one MVP award. This includes three consecutive titles and then back-to-back victories further on. Additionally, he won two NBA Finals MVPs and was named to the all-star team 18 times, which is the second most of all time. He led the league in scoring twice, in 05/06 and 06/07, recording 35.4 and 31.6 points per game respectively.

After suffering a torn Achilles tendon in 2013, Bryant continued to struggle with injuries following his return. Knee and shoulder injuries cut his next two seasons short, and his physical decline eventually resulted in retirement at the end of the 2015/16 season. In typical fashion, the guard scored 60 points in his final ever game against the Utah Jazz. This made him the oldest ever player to score 60 or more points in a game.

3. Karl Malone (36,928)

Karl Malone spent all but one season of his career with the Utah Jazz, where he scored almost all of his 36,928 points. Regarded by many as one of the greatest players to play the power forward position, Malone is the only player in the top five to never win a single NBA championship, though he has a number of personal accolades, including two MVP awards.

Drafted in 1985, Malone spent 18 seasons with the Jazz, forming a formidable duo with teammate John Stockton, who was the team’s point guard. In 1990, he scored his career high, dropping 61 points and 18 rebounds on the Milwaukee Bucks. Stockton got 16 assists in that game.

The forward led the Jazz to regular playoff berths and winning seasons, despite failing to win that elusive championship. He left the team as a free agent in 2003 and moved to the LA Lakers in a final attempt to win a ring. Playing alongside stars such as Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, they were favourites to do so. Injuries affected his season, but he returned in time for the playoffs in which they made the NBA finals. However, they were defeated by the Detroit Pistons in five games. Malone announced his retirement during the following season, after 19 years in the league. He averaged 25 points per game throughout his career.

2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387)

Before it was broken earlier this year, the record was held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar whose 38,387 points was the most in NBA history for 39 years.

In 1984 whilst playing for the LA Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record at the time, scoring his 31,420th point in a game against the Utah Jazz.

Having been drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969, the center spent the first six seasons of his career with the franchise, winning one championship and three MVP awards. His career high was 55 points against the Boston Celtics in 1971. This was one of ten 50+ point games of his career. Abdul-Jabbar averaged 30.4 points per game during his time in Milwaukee.

The majority of his time was spent in LA, after he was traded to the Lakers in 1975. Fourteen successful seasons saw a further five championships and three MVPs. His six total MVPs is the most of any player in NBA history.

At 42-years old, Abdul-Jabbar suited up for the final time in his career in 1989. At the time of his retirement, he held the records for most career games, most field goals made, most minutes played and of course most points scored.

1. Lebron James (38,652)

Lebron James holds the record of most points scored in NBA history with 38,652. James broke the record in February 2023 late in the third quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder as a member of the LA Lakers.

Regarded by many as the greatest player of all time, James has had a stellar career so far and will be looking to add to his points total as he prepares to enter his 21st season in the NBA. He was drafted by his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft, and came into the league touted as the greatest prospect ever. With Cleveland, he won Rookie of the Year and two MVPs and scored a total of 15,251 points during his first spell there. He then moved to the Miami Heat in 2010 free agency. Alongside Dwyane Wade, they formed one of the league’s most fearsome duos, winning two championships in four years. In his final season with the Heat, James recorded his single game career high, scoring 61 points in a game against the Charlotte Bobcats.

A return to Cleveland followed, where he won the franchise’s first and only championship in 2016. He then signed with the Lakers in 2018, before winning his fourth title in 2020. He is one of four players to have won a championship with three different teams. Despite recent injury hampered seasons, James is still producing at an elite level and will look to add even more accolades to his resume this season. Even at 38 years old, he is showing few signs of slowing down.

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