Kareem Abdul-Jabbar continued to take steps toward becoming the leading scorer in NBA history on Jan. 10, 1986, when he scored his 34,000th career point in a Los Angeles Lakers win over the Indiana Pacers.
Abdul-Jabbar was the first player to reach 34,000 points, and only Karl Malone has done so since, ending his career as the league’s second-leading scorer with 36,928 points (Abdul-Jabbar finished with 38,387. Kobe Bryant came close to the 34,000-point mark, however, before ultimately ending his career as the NBA’s third-leading scorer with 33,643 points.
The Captain was as dependable as ever in the victory over Indiana that day, scoring 31 points to go with eight rebounds, three blocks and a steal while the Lakers blew out the Pacers, 124-102.
Abdul-Jabbar’s potency was necessary due to an off shooting night for Magic Johnson, who scored 12 points on 4-for-17 shooting but still dished 11 assists and contributed four steals in the win.
All of the Lakers’ starters scored in double figures except for Byron Scott (six points), but Michael Cooper helped lead the way off of the bench with 16 points on just eight shots. The ever-reliable Kurt Rambis scored 12 points on just three shots while snatching 13 rebounds with the type of dirty work that made him such a fan favorite.
Still, the Lakers revolved around Abdul-Jabbar on the evening, and it was the kind of performance that led to his ranking as the seventh-best Laker of all-time despite him playing the majority of his best basketball in a Milwaukee Bucks uniform.
Abdul-Jabbar doesn’t get brought up enough while discussing the greatest players in history, especially when considering the longevity and skill that allowed him to rack up the most points in the history of the league and a total that will likely never be caught.
However, achievements like the one he had against the Pacers all those years ago are why he should absolutely be mentioned more in the conversation over the greatest players of all-time.