LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are getting a national television audience on Saturday.
Just in case.
With James closing in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career scoring record, the NBA has moved the Lakers’ game at New Orleans up two hours to a 6 p.m. Eastern start. The Lakers-Pelicans game will also be aired on ESPN2, preceding a national broadcast between Dallas and Golden State at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.
James and the Lakers play at Indiana on Thursday. He will enter that game needing 89 points to pass Abdul-Jabbar, who has been the league’s leading scorer since 1984.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last month in Paris, when asked about the league’s plans for James’ potential record-breaking game, that the league “would look at making sure that game isn’t just national in the United States but globally available if he’s anywhere within a reasonable amount of points of breaking that record.”
James is averaging 30.2 points per game. At that pace, the record-breaker is likely to be Tuesday when the Lakers host Oklahoma City — provided James doesn’t miss any games in the interim. The NBA has not yet said how, or if, the Lakers-Thunder game would be nationally televised. TNT is scheduled to broadcast two games that night, Atlanta at New Orleans followed by Minnesota at Denver.
If James doesn’t have the record after the Feb. 7 game, his next game is already scheduled for national TV. The Lakers’ home game Feb. 9 against Milwaukee — the team that Abdul-Jabbar started his career with, before he joined the Lakers — will be shown on TNT.
Abdul-Jabbar retired with 38,387 points in a 20-season career. James, in his 20th season, has scored 38,299.