Cavs’ star LeBron James is on pace to hit a milestone this weekend. He’s closing in on becoming just the seventh player in NBA history to score 30,000 career points. But WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says scoring the most points has never been James' goal.
James is 41 points away from hitting 30,000 career points. He'll then be just 802 points behind Dirk Nowitzki to take over the No. 6 spot on the all-time scoring list. And Pluto says it's possible James could eventually surpass No. 1 on that list -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
"Abdul-Jabbar had 38,000 points and played until he was 41. LeBron's in his 15th season and basically gets about 2,000 points a season. He could pass Abdul-Jabbar by the time he's 37. Next on the list is Karl Malone, then Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. He'll blow past them in about a year and a half."
Pluto says one reason why he's confident James will accomplish the feat is that he's never seriously injured.
The accidental leading scorer
Pluto says there's a difference between James and most others on the list: He's not trying to rack up points. For example, Pluto says Michael Jordan was the NBA's leading scorer for 10 seasons. LeBron James -- just one season so far in his career.
And, Pluto says even during his days at Akron's St. Vincent/St. Mary's High School, he kept his points in check.
"As a senior, he averaged 30 points a game, which is a lot. He only scored more than 40 points six times. He was always interested in his teammates getting the ball, too, as well as rebounding. He calls it the whole game."
A different philosophy
"He's far more obsessed with keeping that streak of seven consecutive trips to the NBA Finals going. To him, that's a sign of a great player."
Pluto says thereare two people who get credit for James' approach to the game. First, Dru Joyce II, who coached him from the time he was 10-years-old.
"He would tell LeBron, 'Don't you care about your teammates? You have to share the ball with them.'"
The other influential figure in James' life was Keith Dambrot, who was his coach for his first two years at St. Vincent/St. Mary's.
"While Joyce tended to be the good cop, Dambrot was never afraid to be the bad cop," Pluto says.
Staying in Akron
Pluto says another factor that shaped James' playing style was that he stayed in Akron.
"All these top prep schools were just begging him to come. He played basically with kids from Northeast Ohio, many from his own neighborhood. The culture you see now is kids going from high school to high school. They'll up and move to another state to play somewhere. James is old school. Same youth team, same couple coaches."
"I know now for a fact the number he's chasing, he wants to win like six titles -- more than Michael Jordan. He wants to be on basketball's Mt. Rushmore, don't kid yourself. But he doesn't think just racking up points is how you do it."