Here’s the list:
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Karl Malone
- LeBron James
- Kobe Bryant
- Michael Jordan
- Dirk Nowitzki
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Shaquille O’Neal
That’s it. Those are the only people in NBA history that have scored more points than Carmelo Anthony, who passed Moses Malone this past Sunday to move into 9th on the all-time list. And, if he were to average 15 points per game (which has been right around his average the past four seasons) for the rest of this season, he would move past Shaq by exactly one point to take over the 8th spot on that list.
Say what you want about his defense, his leadership or any other knock people have had on his game throughout the years…the dude can fill the bucket. He is a professional scorer, whether that was during his one season at Syracuse, his eight years as a Denver Nugget, his time as a New York Knick or even during this latest chapter as a journeyman in Oklahoma City, Houston, Portland and now Los Angeles.
Entering the Lakers’ game on Wednesday, Anthony was exactly 9,100 points ahead of the next highest career scoring total from a former Syracuse player. Dave Bing, who many still consider the greatest player to ever suit up for the Orange, is 75th on the NBA all-time scoring list at 18,327 points.
So, as Anthony continues to climb the charts, he does so this season as a teammate of another guy who is in his 19th season in the league. That teammate is one of the few people who can say they have scored more than Anthony in the NBA. LeBron James, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft (when Anthony was selected 3rd), not only is ahead of Anthony in career points. But, James has something (actually four somethings) that Anthony desperate craves: an NBA championship.
And that singular goal, more so than the number of points he’s tallied in his career, is what drives Anthony. The chance to win a championship is what has kept motivating Anthony to work when it seemed the league had given up on him. That motivation was what led him to Los Angeles to join a team that gives him the best shot of his career at winning a title. On a team that won a title two seasons ago and has 10 (count ’em, 10!) players 30 years or older on the roster, there is a communal sense of urgency to win a title in the twilights of their careers.
More than the points total, more than the 10 All-Star game appearances, more than the Olympic gold medals and all the other accolades, winning an NBA championship is what keeps Carmelo Anthony coming back for more. But don’t get it twisted: his ascent in the scoring record books has put him on the fast track to Springfield and should quell any doubts as to whether he is one of the best to ever lace them up.