LeBron James has passed retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant as the third-highest points scorer in NBA playoffs history. James had 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists Thursday as the Cleveland Cavaliers bounced back from a 25-point first half deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 119-114. With the victory, James and the Cavs claimed a dominating 3-0 series lead in the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
James, currently seventh all-time in regular season scoring with 28,787 points, now trails only Michael Jordan (5,987 points) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762) in the list of all-time playoff scorers. James eclipsed Bryant Thursday when he made a three-pointer to increase his playoff tally to 5,641 points from 202 postseason games. By the end of Thursday's game, James had 5,669 playoff points, trailing Abdul-Jabbar by a little over 100 points. Bryant made 5,640 points from 220 playoff games for the Lakers.
LeBron James can surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by next week
Bryant is currently third all-time in regular-season scoring with 33,643 points, a landmark that James could eclipse in a few more seasons. When the Black Mamba announced his retirement last November, James spoke profoundly of the impact that the Lakers legend had on his career.
"It was someone that I always knew I had to be in the gym. I knew I had to be better because of Kobe Bryant. I knew he was in the gym, and I knew he was working on his game. And I knew he was great. So every day that I didn't want to work out or every day I felt like I couldn't give more, I always thought of Kobe.
"Because I knew that he was getting better and I was like, 'Man, if you take a day off, he's going to take advantage of it. You cannot take a day off. You cannot take a day off.' And I used him for my motivation throughout my career because I always knew that he was working on something. So that part will be missed a little bit," James had said of Bryant, via ESPN.
On Thursday, James also moved to seventh on the all-time playoffs rebounding list, eclipsing Wes Unseld. He is currently third in all-time playoff assists, trailing only John Stockton and Magic Johnson. James is also ranked third all-time in playoff steals, trailing Bulls legends Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Many analysts reckon James has already cemented himself as the second greatest player ever behind Jordan.
LeBron James and the Cavs will try to close out the first-round series when the teams return to Indiana for Game 4 on Sunday. The Cavs will play the winner of the Toronto Raptors vs Milwaukee Bucks series in the semi-finals of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Bucks currently lead the Raptors 2-1 in their first-round series.