The NBA’s all-time leading scorer was in attendance of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s last game on the road vs. the Phoenix Suns.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar watched from the stands as Kevin Durant poured in 41 points to help the Thunder to a 102-90 victory.
Kareem was asked after the game if he thought Durant would one day have a chance at catching his scoring record.
“I think he certainly has the talent. It all depends on if he stays healthy and is the focus of the offense, because he can score from anywhere on the court … He’s not just in it to put up numbers. He wants to win and understands what the game’s about. That always makes me feel better.”
It will be hard for Durant to play as long as Kareem did. Kareem played 20 seasons in the NBA and averaged 24.6 points per game. The most he ever averaged was 34.8 points per game at age 24 and the least was 10.1 points per game in his last season at the age of 41.
Durant came into the league at age 19 so he has a slight head start on Kareem but it is more unlikely these days for someone to play 20 seasons, especially for a non-center.
Durant is averaging 26.5 points per game for his career so far. Kareem averaged more than 26.5 points per game in each of his first seven seasons.
The evolution of Durant’s offensive game will be key in his quest to become the game’s all-time scoring champ. Sure, Durant can score in more different ways than Kareem could but that doesn’t necessarily give Durant an advantage here. Part of why Kareem was able to play so long and score so much was his one, unstoppable move: the skyhook.
Durant will definitely have to become one of the best post players of all-time to have any real chance of catching Kareem. He has been working on this so far in his career but still has a long way to go.
Kareem is right when he says that Durant is playing the game to win and not to get records. That mentality is something that might hold Durant back from catching Kareem. Durant will be the guy who takes a lesser role later in his career to remain part of a team that can win.
Durant is only in his sixth season in the NBA and still has a long career left ahead of him. He will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest scorers ever, but becoming the greatest will take a lot of work and good fortune.