On this day in 1984, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scores the 31,420th point of his career, breaking the NBA’s all-time scoring record, which had been held by Wilt Chamberlain.
Over 18,000 fans gathered at the Thomas and Mack Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to watch the Utah Jazz play Abdul-Jabbar and the Los Angeles Lakers on April 5. With less than nine minutes left in the game, Magic Johnson passed the ball to his 7’2″ teammate and Abdul-Jabbar scored his 22nd point of the night and 31,420th point of his career. The game stopped as Abdul-Jabbar’s teammates rushed to congratulate him and the fans gave him an extended standing ovation. Abdul-Jabbar, 37, was then taken out of the game, after making 10 of 14 baskets from the field and two out two from the foul line, plus five rebounds and three assists. The Lakers went on to win the game, 129-115.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr., on April 16, 1947, in New York City, and changed his name in 1971 after converting to Islam. As a star center at UCLA, he led his team to three NCAA championships, in 1967, 1968 and 1969. He was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks as the first overall pick in 1969 NBA draft and named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1970. The following season, the Bucks took home the NBA championship and Abdul-Jabbar won the first of a record six Most Valuable Player awards he received during his 20-year NBA career. In 1975, Abdul-Jabbar joined the Lakers and became part of a dynasty that won the NBA championship in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988. Abdul-Jabbar, who was named to a record 19 NBA All-Star teams, retired from pro basketball at age 42 in 1989 with 38,387 points. He remains the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. By comparison, Karl Malone scored 36,374 in 19 seasons, Michael Jordan had 32,392 points in 15 seasons, while Wilt Chamberlain racked up 31,419 points in 14 seasons and Moses Malone had 27,409 points in 19 seasons.
In addition to his all-time scoring record, Abdul-Jabbar held the league record for most minutes played (54,446) and most blocked shots (3,189). He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.