NBA All-Time Leading Scorers
Basketball games are known for their fast pace and high point totals, with scores often soaring over 100 on both sides of the court. With that in mind, it is rarely surprising to see NBA players reach career point totals in the tens of thousands. But who are the all-time leading scorers in NBA history, and where do the biggest names in the league stand on that list? Below, we list the top 10 scorers in NBA history, and go into greater depth on the careers of a few of them.
What Players Have Scored the Most All-Time Points in the NBA?
- LeBron James* - 38,390 points
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 38,387 points
- Karl Malone - 36,928 points
- Kobe Bryant - 33,643 points
- Michael Jordan - 32,292 points
- Dirk Nowitzki - 31,560 points
- Wilt Chamberlain - 31,419 points
- Shaquille O’Neal - 28,596 points
- Carmelo Anthony* - 28,289 points
- Moses Malone - 27,409 points
*Indicates a player who is currently active in the NBA.
LeBron James is the current all-time leading scorer in NBA history, having scored an astonishing 38,390 points in his career as of February 7, 2023. LeBron, who has been a household name in the NBA since his career began in 2003, broke the all-time scoring record of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on February 7, 2023, during the third quarter of a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The title of all-time scoring leader is only one of LeBron’s many accomplishments, which also include four NBA Championships, four NBA MVP Awards, and the top-scoring spot among NBA playoff scorers, with 7,601 playoff points in his career. As LeBron is still active in the league, it is likely that his all-time point total will only continue to grow.
Prior to his 39,387-point record being broken by LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had held the place of all-time leading scorer in the NBA for 39 years after breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s then-record of 31,419 points in 1984. Abdul-Jabbar, who played for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers from 1969 to 1989, went on to increase his point total to 39,387 points by the time of his retirement. Like LeBron James, Abdul-Jabbar’s career was legendary, including six NBA Championships, six NBA MVP Awards, and an eventual place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Currently in third place on the list of all-time leading NBA scorers, with 36,928 points, Karl Malone sat in second place behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he retired in 2004, after playing 19 seasons in the league. He played 18 seasons for the Utah Jazz and one for the Los Angeles Lakers. Malone’s career point count sits comfortably ahead of Kobe Bryant, who sits in fourth place, marking Malone as one of the true point-scoring elites in NBA history. Surprisingly, though Malone’s place on the all-time scorers list is so high, he reached it without ever winning an NBA Championship. However, he was named NBA MVP twice, earned 14 appearances in the NBA All-Star Game, and is currently a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
It is likely no surprise to many NBA fans that the late great Kobe Bryant is on the all-time scorers list, and he currently resides in fourth place, with 33,643 career points. Bryant earned his impressive point tally over the course of 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, a legendary career that spanned from 1996 to 2015. As with the other players on our list, Bryant’s accolades in scoring came with many other achievements, including five NBA Championships, the 2007-2008 NBA MVP Award, two NBA Finals MVP Awards, 18 All-Star Game appearances, and a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Many might expect that the player almost-universally referred to as “the Greatest of All Time” must be first on the all-time scorers list, but Michael Jordan’s 32,292-point total makes him the league’s fifth-highest scorer. However, Jordan’s other accolades leave no room for doubt about his prowess and status in the basketball world. With six NBA Championships, five NBA MVP Awards, six NBA Finals MVP Awards, and 14 All-Star Game appearances, “His Airness” more than earned his spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and though he may not be at the top of the all-time scorers list, he is an undeniable fixture of NBA history.
Who has scored the most career points in NBA history?
Currently, LeBron James has scored the most career points in NBA history, having amassed a legendary 38,390 points. LeBron became the all-time leading career scorer in the NBA on February 7, 2023, when he broke the 39-year, 38,387-point record which had been held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar since 1984. As LeBron remains active in the NBA, it is likely that his point total will continue to increase in the near future.
Who has scored the most points in a single NBA season?
The most points scored by an NBA player in a single season is 4,029, a record achieved by Wilt Chamberlain during the 1961-1962 NBA season. Chamberlain, who played for the Philadelphia Warriors, managed an incredible average of 50.4 points per game in that season. Currently, Chamberlain, who passed away in 1999, sits in seventh place on the NBA all-time scorers list, earning 31,419 points across his 15-season career.
Who has scored the most points in a single NBA game?
Wilt Chamberlain also holds the record for the most points scored in a single NBA game, with an even 100 points scored during the March 2, 1962 game his Philadelphia Warriors played against the New York Knicks. In addition to his first-place spot, Chamberlain’s other high-scoring games also hold spots on the same list, including the third, fourth, fifth, seventh, and eleventh spots, among others.