MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

LeBron James became the leading scorer in NBA history Tuesday night, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by sinking a 20-foot turnaround with 10.9 seconds left in the third quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder, putting him at 38,388 points for his career, more than any other player in NBA history.

By the time the game was over on Tuesday, James had raised that total to 38,390 in becoming the fourth player to play for the Lakers organization to be the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

The others are Abdul-Jabbar, of course, who sits at what was thought to be the unbreakable mark of 38,387, which he held for 38 years; Wilt Chamberlain, who established the record as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers before playing for the Lakers and also achieved what was thought to be an unbreakable record of 31,409 points; and George Mikan, who established his record of 10,156 points while playing for the Minneapolis Lakers in in 1952.

Now some of you may have just chuckled at A.) Mikan’s total and B.) the year 1952, and that would be par for the course for knuckleheads to do. That’s because you have no appreciation for anything other than what you just saw on your phone or on television (Hello, Mike Greenberg).

These people have no appreciation for history or for legacy. They’re only interested in immediate gratification as they lose their money gambling on their phones. They are incapable of understanding that in life, as in literature or any form of writing, art or performance, there is a beginning, a middle and an ending. That includes the NBA.

George Mikan was in the beginning and there would be no NBA if Mikan had not been there in the beginning. He provided the league with what credibility it had, which was the groundwork for the NBA becoming the multi-billion-dollar entertainment conglomerate it has become.

At the time, George Mikan was considered to be the greatest basketball player of all-time. And he probably was.

Since then it has been Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West (he is The Logo for a reason), Magic, Bird, Kareem, Michael Jordan and LeBron. That’s how it works. At those players’ respective times, they likely were the greatest players. But, guess what? Time evolves – itself and anybody who dares to come with it.

In other words, there is no such thing as a greatest of all-time — at anything, beginning with sports.

Yet for some time now, LeBron James has been called by many, the greatest of all-time (I refuse to say that word – Hello, Mike Greenberg), and even more call him that now since he has become the leading scorer in NBA history. Well, maybe he is. Who am I to say? It’d be okay with me.

But maybe Michael Jordan is the greatest of all-time, or Kareem, Magic, Bird, West, Oscar, Russell or Wilt; or whoever else you want to put in there. I don’t think you’d be wrong, but you most certainly would not be right. But I have no problem with any of them.

I have no problem with people believing whatever it is they believe about this. My only problem is with nits like Greenberg who make edicts about every latest thing he’s just seen; not about what he’s never seen or could even imagine.

A GOAT (there, I said it) has many different intangibles and qualities that make him a so-called GOAT, and not just the most points scored.

All I know is, a so-called GOAT does not pout and tank an entire NBA Finals series, which LeBron James has done – in front of us all. Look it up.

LeBron James is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, hands down, and he has many redeeming qualities that I like and admire. But he is not the so-called GOAT, any more than Tom Brady is a so-called GOAT.

Greatest of his or her time (GOHT)? Maybe. Even likely, because all of the aforementioned did different things and possessed different qualities that nobody had done or possessed before or have since.

There is no definition of a GOAT, because there is no such thing as a GOAT. The GOAT, you see, is merely a unicorn.

Unless you are Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Jim Brown or Richard Pryor.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT