INDIANAPOLIS — LeBron James might have some work left to do to catch Kobe Bryant’s five championships, but he now has eclipsed the former Los Angeles Lakers star in another statistical category that defined Bryant’s career: playoff points.
With James’ and-one shot in the lane and ensuing free throw with 7:26 left in second quarter in Game 3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ first-round series with the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, James eclipsed Bryant for third place on the NBA’s all-time postseason scoring list. The old-fashioned three-point play gave James 13 points for the game and 5,641 points for his playoff career.
James now trails only Michael Jordan (5,987 points) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762) in all-time playoff scoring.
James reached the mark in his 202nd career playoff game. Bryant played a total of 220.
James, a 14-year veteran, is seventh all time in regular-season scoring with 28,787 points. Bryant, who retired last season after his 20th year in the league, is third all time in regular-season scoring with 33,643 points.
When Bryant announced his intended retirement last November, James spoke of the impact the fellow prep-to-pros baller Bryant had on his career.
“It was someone that I always knew I had to be in the gym,” James said. “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 also passed Wes Unseld for seventh on the all-time playoff rebounding list with his fourth board on Thursday. James ranks third in all-time playoff assists, trailing only Magic Johnson and John Stockton. He also ranks third in all-time playoff steals, trailing Scottie Pippen and Jordan.
James ranks 21st in all-time playoff blocks; however, he is first in all-time playoff blocks for a wing player. Pippen is second.