LeBron James passed Kobe Bryant on the all-time scoring list with a 29-point performance on Saturday, but his Los Angeles Lakers suffered a one-sided loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, 108-91.
LeBron, who was named to his 16th straight all-star game this week, etched his name in the record books by becoming the third-leading scorer in NBA history.
With the Lakers trailing the host Philadelphia 76ers 74-52 with 7 1/2 minutes left in the third period, James received a pass from Anthony Davis at the three-point line and drove across the lane, splitting two defenders for a layup and the historic points.
At the next timeout, LeBron received a standing ovation from the crowd of 21,109 at the Wells Fargo Center arena.
The basket put James at 33,644 career points, one more than former Lakers great Bryant’s 33,643.
Longtime Utah Jazz star forward Karl Malone is next for James to pass with 36,928 points. Centre Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the league’s all-time scoring leader with 38,387 points.
After the game, James talked about meeting Bryant as a teenager and getting a pair of shoes from his hero. They cramped his feet but he wasn’t going to take them off.
“I wore them that night. I was a 15 and he was a size 14. I wore them anyways,” James said.
“He was immortal offensively because of his skillset,” James said. “The story is too much. Now I am here in a Lakers uniform in Philadelphia where he is from.
“The universe just puts things in your life. When you live the right way, things happen organically. It is not supposed to make sense but it just happens.”
Bryant congratulated James, who is in his second season with the Lakers, on Twitter. “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother,” Bryant wrote.
James spent 11 seasons across two different stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, with a four-season run in Miami in between.
He is averaging over 25 points over 44 games this season, leading the Lakers to the Western Conference’s best record of 36-10.
Ben Simmons finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Sixers.
Tobias Harris scored 29 points and Al Horford had 16 for the Sixers, who improved to 21-2 at home.
The shorthanded Sixers played without Joel Embiid (injured finger) for the 16th time this season and were also missing Josh Richardson with a strained hamstring.
Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 31 points, while James also had eight assists and seven rebounds.
– Irving shines –
Elsewhere, Rudy Gobert finished with 22 points as the Utah Jazz rallied to beat the Dallas Mavericks 112-107.
Donovan Mitchell scored a team-high 25 points while Bojan Bogdanovic added 23 points as Utah won its fourth straight game.
Luka Doncic scored 25 points, Seth Curry added 19 points and Kristaps Porzingis added 15 for the Mavericks, who are 1-2 in their last three after winning four straight.
In Detroit, Kyrie Irving scored 45 points and the visiting Brooklyn Nets snapped a five-game losing skid with a 121-111 overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons.
Irving added seven assists and six rebounds in his highest-scoring game since his Nets debut in October.
Jarrett Allen had 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks and Joe Harris tossed in 16 points for Brooklyn.
Derrick Rose, who has scored 20 or more points in 12 straight games, led Detroit with 27 points and six assists.
Detroit centre Andre Drummond delivered 20 points and 21 rebounds while Svi Mykhailiuk contributed 19 points and Bruce Brown added 17 points with five assists.
Drummond missed the previous two games after taking an elbow to the face at Washington on Monday.
Brooklyn scored the first six points of overtime and Harris nailed a three-pointer with 2:40 remaining to seal the match.