The View From Pluto: LeBron James Quietly Moves Up On The Scoring List
Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James continues to cement his legacy as one of the NBA’s greats. James has moved into 10th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, passing Hakeen Olajuwan.
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto has been following James since he was a teenager in Akron and just put out a book on the Cavs championship run called The Comeback.
Pluto says this recent milestone in his career happened kind of quietly.
Pluto says that when it comes to LeBron James, there are two groups of people: “Those who are sick of him and don’t care what he does. The other is -- like University of Akron coach Keith Dambrot – who said he sort of yawned about it.” Dambrot coached James at St. Vincent St. Mary High School in Akron.
“It just feels like he’s played forever,” Pluto says. “We’re used to him. He’s been around; some of us have watched him since he was 14 and most everyone else since he was 16 or certainly by the time he was 17 and in the NBA draft.
Then of course he plays here. But we are seeing one of the greatest players ever in basketball history. And we are seeing LeBron James, who’s come back to Cleveland as a much better player than the one who left.”
For LeBron James, cracking the top 10 scoring list is secondary. “He’s always been more interested in assists and rebounding and defense. He’s moved into the top 10 in scoring without concentrating on scoring,” Pluto says.
Pluto says James’ goal is to win championships.
“He knows now he has this string of six consecutive appearances in the Finals, with a good chance for seven. He has three titles with two different franchises. He’s reached the finals seven times with four different coaches – Mike Brown, Eric Spolestra, David Blatt and Tyronn Lue. He has three titles with two different franchises.
So it’s not like somebody goes to San Antonino and hooks up with Greg Popovich and like Tim Duncan they keep going to the Finals. Or Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan.
How far can he go?
Right now, tops on the NBA scoring list is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 38,387 points. James has 29,670 (as of 11/8/16). “LeBron would have to play a long time to [catch Jabbar]. But he could easily get to the top five. Michael Jordan is fourth [with 32,292 points]. But the other thing is he’s 18th all-time in assists and no one else is close to that.”
Is James underappreciated?
Keith Dambrot told Pluto that James is under appreciated, "because his last title was really about what LeBron created."
When LeBron went to Miami, he hooked up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But when he comes to Cleveland in 2014, there’s no Wade or Bosh.
Yeah, he picked up Kyrie Irving and they trade for Kevin Love. But none of these guys had ever done anything! He inherited a coach in David Blatt who hadn’t even coached in America, much less NBA. He didn’t look at this and say, ‘This is a great situation to win.’”
“He came home to try and do something unique. Which is why this last championship meant more than the other two. But it isn’t the awe of Michael Jordon or Kobe Bryant got. And the great thing is, it’s not like he’s on his last leg. He’s got several good years left.”