LeBron James is NBA’s top scorer. How long can he keep playing?

Written by Amy Ta, produced by Robin Estrin

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) shoots the ball in the second half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Crypto.com Arena, Feb 7, 2023, Los Angeles. Photo by Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters Connect.

LeBron James is now the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, racking up 38,390 points. The moment happened Tuesday night at a Los Angeles Lakers home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He surpassed the record set by another Laker — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — nearly 40 years ago.  

James entered the professional league at age 18, which is uncommon, says Dave Schilling, contributing writer for the LA Times Image magazine. “You're still a child when you graduate from high school in a lot of ways. You haven't fully matured to the level that people in their early 20s are when they come into the NBA.”

James is also known for his long streak of avoiding major injuries. In contrast, Schilling points out, Shaquille O'Neal’s body couldn’t handle the stress for as long, and Kobe Bryant suffered a torn Achilles tendon and could no longer be as explosive or jump as high as before. 

Schilling predicts that James, who’s currently 38 years old, will be able to play into his 40s and reach 40,000 points, particularly due to his strength training and advances in sports science. 

What’s expected for his final years in the league? He’ll likely want to win a fifth championship and play with his high school-aged son, says Schilling.  

Beyond basketball, James has acted in films such as “House Party” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” and collaborated with HBO on its series “The Shop: Uninterrupted.” 

“He has all of these things … outside of the court activities. And being in LA allows him to … network when he's on the court. If you have Ari Emanuel from Endeavor courtside, they could talk business during halftime or something. Like that's the beauty of a Laker game — it's like lunch at the Polo Lounge.”



  • Dave Schilling - contributing writer for the LA Times Image magazine


Michell Eloy