When Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962, he set a record that has remained untouched ever since. The closest anyone has ever come to the record was in 2006 when Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a win over the Toronto Raptors. At the half, Kobe only had 26 points. No one expected him to score 55 points in the second half. If he would have had a better first half, chances are, he would have easily beaten that record.
But in today's day-and-age, the NBA is not built on 100-point performances. Sure, Kobe Bryant scoring 81 points was incredible to watch, but it was ten years ago and even then, it was difficult to reach 81, let alone score another 19 points to tie that coveted 100-point mark.
Regardless, those two men were incredible scorer's and finished their career's with over 25,000 points each. They are in an elite group of only 20 NBA superstars all-time that have scored at least 25,000 points in a career. That dates back to 1960, meaning in 57 years of NBA basketball, only 20, of the thousands of players, have surpassed the milestone, which is one of the most respected in all of professional sports.
As the 2016-17 NBA season hits the home stretch, let's take a few minutes to look back at the 20 guys that made scoring look as easy as counting to ten.
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20 Alex English, SF, (25,613 points)
Alex English is probably a name you did not expect to hear on this list. We surely were not expecting it when we came across it. But for most of the 1980s, the NBA had a tough time stopping Alex English from scoring and he finished in the top-five in scoring for six consecutive seasons including leading the league in the 1982-83 season with a per game average of 28.4 points.
He averaged over 25 points per game in a season, eight times including three times averaging more than 28 points. The only thing that has kept him from a Hall of Fame induction is his lack of NBA Championships. He helped the Denver Nuggets reach the playoffs nine times in the '80s but they could never get over the hump and play for a NBA title. They came closest in 1985 when they made it to the Western Conference Finals before losing badly to the Lakers, 4-1.
19 Reggie Miller, SG (25,279 points)
Reggie Miller was annoying. He was aggravating and angered a ton of New York Knick fans in the '90s. But the one thing he did better than anything else was score. He was incredible at shooting and could score from just about anywhere on the court, quickly. His release was so fast that it was tough to stop him. He was already shooting by the time the defender left the floor.
He was a scorer, nothing more. But it worked because the Indiana Pacers were built for his talents. With Dale Davis, Rik Smits, Detlef Schrempf, Austin Croshere, Travis Best, Mark Jackson, Al Harrington, and several others in the lineup, Reggie Miller did not have to take over the team. He just had to focus on getting open and making the shots, which he did night after night for 18 seasons.
18 Elvin Hayes, PF (27,313 points)
Elvin Hayes was the San Diego Rockets first overall pick in the 1968 NBA Draft. He would spend the next 16 years playing for the San Diego/Houston Rockets and the Baltimore/Washington Bullets. Throughout his career, he was a great scoring big man that entered the league with a 28.4 points per game average during his rookie season, his second best point per game average of his career.
Actually, for his first six years in the league, he averaged some nasty numbers including 25.4 points, 16.3 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game. No one else in NBA history put up those numbers in their first six seasons. Not even Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar averaged those numbers in their first six seasons.
17 Paul Pierce, SF (Active)
Paul Pierce was never the most entertaining player and sometimes, he was downright boring to watch, but the one thing he did better than anyone else in the NBA since 1998 is consistently dominate and lead his team from the SF position. LeBron James took over the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2003-04 season but he was expected to become a star, no one expected Paul Pierce to become the best SF in the NBA and a Finals MVP.
He does everything needed from a Small Forward including play defense. His most underrated abilities were on the defensive side of the ball, where he was a tough defender who played nearly 39 minutes per game throughout most of his career. He is currently playing with the Los Angeles Clippers but has announced that this is his final season and at 39 years old, it is easy to see why.
16 Dominique Wilkins, SF (26,668 points)
You do not get the nickname, "The Human Highlight Film" because you are good at jump shots. You get a moniker like that from throwing down some of the greatest in-game dunks the league had ever seen. Dominique Wilkins earned that nickname because of his athleticism. The man was 6'8" and had a 42" vertical leap. That is a 3.5 foot jump from a standing still position so one can only imagine how much high he can jump with a running start.
But he was not just a one-trick pony either. Dominique Wilkins could shoot, defend, and rebound. He was able to run up and down the court, playing both offense and defense, and even led the Atlanta Hawks to eight postseason appearances including three Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. But they just could not get past the Boston Celtics and it left him without ever winning a NBA Finals.
15 Dirk Nowitzki, PF (Active)
Dirk Nowitzki was not the first big man that was better shooting from outside the paint then in the post. There have been several big men that could score from outside but the difference was that not a single one of them were 7'0" tall. Andrea Bargnani attempted 168 or more three-pointers in a season, five different times and seven more seven-footers had one or two seasons attempting at least 168 but Dirk has done it 15 times, or three times more than second place.
He is such a dangerous shooter because he is already seven feet tall and his release happens above the top of his head, making it even more impossible to guard. Even if a defender could reach out and guard him, blocking his shot requires an incredible amount of athleticism because it is so easy to foul him in the process. That has led to his nearly 30,000 career points.
14 Jerry West, PG (25,192 points)
With his 25,192 career points, Jerry West just barely made it onto the list. But that is almost the least important part of his game. For 14 years, Jerry West, whose silhouette is the NBA logo, he led the Los Angeles Lakers to nine NBA Finals. However, because of the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics, they only won once during the nine games.
The one thing that Jerry West has done that has never been done before is be named the NBA Finals MVP even though he was on the losing team in the 1968-69 NBA season. He averaged 31.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists during the Finals that season, which saw the Boston Celtics beat them in 4-2 games.
13 Kevin Garnett, PF (26,071 points)
After making the leap to the NBA straight out of high school in 1995, Kevin Garnett made an immediate impact in the league averaging 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game during his rookie season in which he only averaged 28.7 minutes per game. Once he got a more permanent role in the Minnesota Timberwolves offense, he became one of the best players in the NBA.
From his second season in the league (1996-97) until his final year with the Boston Celtics (2012-13), KG was consistently dominating the NBA while averaging 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 49.9% from the field and 79.2% from the free throw line. He earned his only NBA Title when he partnered up with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in Boston and it could not have happened to a better, more deserving man.
12 Moses Malone, C (27,409 points)
One of the toughest things to do in the NBA is win back-to-back MVP awards. That is actually an insane thing to say because winning just one MVP award is not easy, let alone two. However, Moses Malone ended up winning three NBA MVP awards, including winning back-to-back MVP's for two different teams, the only time in NBA history that the league's defending MVP switched teams and repeated as the MVP.
When a new player joins a team, especially when it is the league's MVP, it takes time for teammates to earn each other's trust and find that chemistry that turns them into a cohesive group instead of individuals so when Moses Malone left the Rockets and joined the 76ers, no one expected him to lead them to a NBA Finals and a dominating sweep of the Lakers, in four games. But that is what made Moses Malone such a dominating player, he was easy to get along with and fit in perfectly with the 76ers.
11 John Havlicek, SG/SF (26,395 points)
John Havlicek is another name on the list of 25,000 point scorers that should come as a surprise to most readers because he was the most forgotten stars from the Boston Celtics dynasty of the '60s. He was a major contributor on the offensive side of the ball for each of his eight NBA Championships.
But because he was overshadowed by Bill Russell, Sam Jones, Bailey Howell, Dave Cowens, and Jo Jo White, the one thing he is most remembered for is the steal he made during the 1965 Eastern Conference Championship in the final seconds to get the Boston Celtics another trip to the NBA Finals. He was also a sixth man and was probably the greatest sixth man in NBA history, basically changing everything about the role of a sixth man by scoring nearly 30 points per game.
10 Kobe Bryant, SG (33,643 points)
Now that Kobe Bryant has officially retired, the league is never going to be the same. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James will forever be linked as three of the greatest all-around NBA players and now, only one of them remains active.
If Kobe is ever going to be considered the greatest at anything, it should be scoring. He was not the best passer or even a good rebounder, but he was most certainly the best scorer in the NBA, for many years, if not his entire career. He could change a game in the matter of minutes once he started hitting shots. Even in his final game in the league, he reminded us that he was one of the greatest ever by scoring 60 points in 42 minutes, going 22-50 from the field, with four rebounds, four assists, and a steal. He was best known for taking plenty of shots and averaged 19.5 shots attempted per game.
9 Karl Malone, PF (36,928 points)
Karl Malone wanted a NBA championship ring. He wanted it so badly that he left Utah for the Los Angeles Lakers in a last ditch effort to win one before he retired. It did not work out that way and he ended up retiring with the second most career points all time.
He is one of only four members of the NBA's 25,000 point club to never win a NBA Championship. He is joined by Dominique Wilkins, Alex English, and Reggie Miller. Of those four athletes, no one deserves a ring more than Karl Malone. He turned the pick-and-roll into an art form with fellow Hall of Famer John Stockton. The two of them formed a scary one-two punch in Utah but when it came to the NBA Finals, they could not get past the Chicago Bulls.
8 Oscar Robertson, PG (26,710 points)
For 14 seasons, Oscar Robertson was scary good. He was even better with the Cincinnati Royals, for his first ten seasons in the NBA, averaging 29.3 points, 10.3 assists, and 8.5 rebounds per game. He even averaged a triple double during his second year in the league, the 1961-62 season, when he had 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game, something that might not ever happen again. Russell Westbrook is having an insane 2016-17 season but even with his impressive numbers, he is still only averaging 30.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists.
But that is what made Oscar Robertson such a talented PG and one of the league's best overall athletes. The NBA has waited nearly 40 years for another player to reach his level and it looks as though people are starting to truly appreciate just how incredible Oscar Robertson was throughout his entire career.
7 Tim Duncan, PF (26,496 points)
When it comes to Power Forwards, and this is just one writer's opinion on the matter, Tim Duncan is the best the NBA has ever seen at the position. He was the definition of a power forward. He was a textbook rebounder, averaging 10.8 rebounds per game throughout his entire 19-season career and a great post-scorer, averaging 19 points per game. He used the backboard like it is supposed to be used and it made him deadly from 16-feet away.
But he was not just an offensive power forward that grabbed rebounds following missed shots, he was a defender too, and an excellent one at that. He defended some of the best PF and Centers in the NBA over the past 20 years leading to the San Antonio Spurs winning five NBA Titles. His defensive talents lead him to 15 NBA All-Defensive selections in 19 years, an NBA record. He retired this past year and should be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
6 Shaquille O'Neal, C (28,596 points)
In his first four years in the NBA, Shaquille O'Neal led the Orlando Magic with 27.2 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. So it was a shock to the Magic fans when he jumped on a plane and headed across the country to play for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996 when they drafted Kobe Bryant and began to build a dynasty. It turned out to be a great decision because he turned into a MVP with the Lakers.
He also turned into an unstoppable force in the paint and posting up, leading to his career field goal scoring percentage of 58.2%, fourth best in NBA history. He was tough to stop that teams had to start fouling him on purpose just to keep him from scoring. He was so terrible at shooting free throws that it worked until the NBA decided to literally make a rule banning teams from doing that.
5 Hakeem Olajuwon, C (26,946 points)
Hakeem Olajuwon was the greatest blocker in NBA history owning the NBA record for most blocks in a career with 3,830, which is 541 more than second place. It is one of those records that might not ever be touched. Dwight Howard is the closest active player and he only has 1,870 career blocks.
"The Dream" was more than just a shot-blocking defender, he was a textbook rebounder, leading the league several times throughout his career, and a very tough player to stop on the offensive end of the court. He used the pump-fake to his advantage and would fake out defenders left and right with his baseline moves. He was very consistent in the post, scoring at will against some of the legends of the game.
4 LeBron James, SF (Active)
How many more seasons will LeBron James play in the NBA? At 32 years old, he has already climbed the all-time scoring list and is currently standing in the eighth spot just a few points behind Shaquille O'Neal. If you compare his game to the two other guys considered to be the greatest ever, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, then you can expect LeBron to play another six years, at least.
With a career per game scoring average of 27.1 points per game, he could finish with 41,000 career points if he goes another five or six years, giving him the record for most points in a career, just a few thousand ahead of the next guy.
3 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, C (38,387 points)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 points scored in his career is a NBA record that has stood since 1989. There are a few active players closing in on the record but only one of them actually has a chance to beat it. Dirk Nowitzki is 38 years old and is almost 9,000 points behind him, so he is not expected to catch him before retiring, which could be any season now. The next few active players are LeBron James (nearly 28,000 points), Paul Pierce, Vince Carter, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade.
Kareem got very little respect for being one of the NBA's greatest players because he played for 20 years. But for 20 years, he averaged 24.6 points per game in his 1,560 games (2nd all-time), and that is something that no one can claim to be even close to.
2 Michael Jordan, SG (32,292 points)
It is hard to argue with our top-three choices for best 25,000 point scorers in NBA history. Michael Jordan is the second best for one reason, his ability to score whenever the team needed him to. He could turn it on in an instant and rarely had off-nights. In terms of overall talent, there might not have ever been a better Shooting Guard in NBA history either.
The only reason Michael Jordan does not own the record for career scoring is because he had Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, B.J. Armstrong, Steve Kerr, Toni Kukoc, and a variety of other guys that could score. Michael Jordan understood that he did not always have to score 60 points for the Chicago Bulls to win. In fact, he barely ever shot a three-pointer, all his scoring happened in the paint or on the free throw line.
1 Wilt Chamberlain, C (31,419 points)
The player that owns the NBA record for most points scored in a career should be the top choice, right?
Wrong! Nothing against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but his 38,387 points happened over the course of 1,560 games, or about 515 more games than Wilt Chamberlain, who retired with 1,045 games played over 13 seasons. Wilt also averaged 30.1 points per game over his career compared to Kareem, who averaged 24.6 points per game. If you take Wilt's 30.1 point per game average and add another 515 games, he runs away with the NBA's all-time scoring record.
So it should not be a shock to see Wilt Chamberlain in the top spot as the best 25,ooo point scorer in NBA history. He also owns the four best single-seasons for points per game, having averaged 37.6, 38.4, 50.4, and 44.8 points per game in consecutive years between 1959 and 1963. He also averaged 36.9 points during the 1963-64 season, which is sixth best in a single season.
The NBA has never seen such a dominate scoring Center since Wilt Chamberlain retired. He owned the league and made scoring look easy.
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