The NBA All-Time Scoring List Looks Just a Bit Different When You Combine the Regular Season and Playoffs
Sitting in the top five of the all-time NBA scoring list is a huge honor. Led by the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the top five boasts a combined 21 NBA titles (Karl Malone is the only man without one), 13 NBA MVP trophies, 14 NBA Finals MVP awards, 81 All-Star Game appearances, 71 All-NBA selections, and 15 scoring titles, 10 of those coming from Michael Jordan.
So, yeah, it’s a big deal.
Now, if you were to Google “NBA all-time scoring list,” you’d be taken to a number of lists featuring the top scorers in the regular season. The all-time postseason scoring list is a completely different thing and those numbers are not included on the all-time scoring list that people are used to seeing. So what happens if you combine the two? Well, you actually still get the same top five but the order is just slightly different thanks to what LeBron James quietly did during the 2020 NBA Finals.
And since we’re talking about LeBron, he’s just going to keep climbing the list as he’s still an active player. The numbers you’ll see below were pulled just ahead of the 2020-2021 season but we’ll be sure to update things from time to time.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sits atop the NBA all-time scoring list for the regular season
As it pertains to the regular season, six-time champion and six-time MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sits atop the NBA all-time scoring list with 38,387 career points. He scored 14,211 points in six seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and another 24,176 over the course of 14 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Karl Malone sits in second and LeBron James is in third after passing Kobe Bryant just one day before Kobe tragically passed away in January 2020. Michael Jordan rounds out the top five.
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 38,387
- Karl Malone: 36,928
- LeBron James: 34,241 (and counting)
- Kobe Bryant: 33,643
- Michael Jordan: 32,292
LeBron James is the all-time scoring leader in the postseason
As it pertains to the postseason, LeBron James is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in that category, a record he set back in Game 5 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals while with the Cleveland Cavaliers. James passed Michael Jordan that night, who held the playoff scoring record for 19 years. Jordan is still in second on the list and is followed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal, who sits in eighth place on the regular-season scoring list. Karl Malone is seventh on the playoff scoring list with 4,761 points.
- LeBron James: 7,491 (and counting)
- Michael Jordan: 5,987
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 5,762
- Kobe Bryant: 5,640
- Shaquille O’Neal: 5,250
Combining the two, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still tops the NBA all-time scoring list but LeBron James is ahead of Karl Malone for second
While it didn’t get a lot of attention during the 2020 NBA Finals as there were so many other things going in, LeBron James passed Karl Malone for second place on the NBA all-time scoring list taking both the regular season and the postseason into account.
In the third quarter of Game 5 against the Miami Heat in the bubble, LeBron hit his 11th field goal of the night in that epic shootout with Jimmy Butler to surpass Malone for the second-most total points in NBA history. James scored 40 that night and added another 28 in Game 6 and enters the 2020-2021 season with 41,732 points for his career.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still tops the overall NBA all-time scoring list with 44,149 combined points and the rest of the top five remains the same (obviously with different numbers). But given the fact that LeBron is still going strong with the Lakers, who are poised to make some deep playoff runs over the next few years, the order of this combined list…and the regular-season list as well…is going to change in the future.
- Kareem Abdul-Jabber: 44,149
- LeBron James: 41,732 (and counting)
- Karl Malone: 41,689
- Kobe Bryant: 39,283
- Michael Jordan: 38,279
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference