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Lakers’ forward LeBron James needs nine points on Saturday to become the first player in NBA history to score 40,000 points. Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Father Time is likely to take another loss on Saturday.

LeBron James is nine points away from becoming the first NBA player to reach 40,000. It’s obviously reasonable to think that he’ll get it when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. James has scored at least nine points in each of his last 762 games that count, including playoffs.

He’s been held under nine points a total of nine times in 21 seasons. In other words, 40,000 is about to happen. And since 50,000 points probably won’t happen – though one never knows with the 39-year-old James – this will be another moment that is certainly worth savoring.

“No one has done it,” James said. “And for me to be in this position at this point and time in my career, I think it’s pretty cool. But is it one of the top things I’ve done in my career? No. Does it mean something? Of course. Why wouldn’t it?”

He never set out in pursuit of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record; it just happened. He never set out in pursuit of Vince Carter’s record of playing 22 seasons either; he’ll tie that mark next year, barring some sort of seismic change in his plans or thinking. It’s still about one thing, and that’s the ring.

The Lakers aren’t the favorites to win the title this season. But given how the oldest player in the NBA right now has performed this week, Laker Nation still has plenty of reasons to think that one more run to a Larry O’Brien Trophy is possible.

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What he did on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers was pure theater. He outscored the Clippers 19-16 by himself in the fourth quarter, making five 3-pointers and leading the Lakers to a wild 116-112 comeback win. And then on Thursday night – a back-to-back for a 39-year-old with a bad ankle – he played 39 minutes, scored 31 points and had a huge chasedown block that became a game-saving play to help the Lakers get an overtime win against Washington.

“That’s why he takes good care of himself,” Lakers Coach Darvin Ham said. “The fruits of his labor are on full display with plays like that.”

The Wizards are bad, sure. But a win is a win, and the Lakers keep stacking them. They’re 9-3 in their last 12 games, are five games over .500 and now get a shot at Denver in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference finals mismatch.

That’s James’ focus entering Saturday. Not getting 40,000 points.

“We just want to get better,” James said.

He’s going to average about 25 points this season. There hasn’t been an “oldest player” in the NBA to average even 10 points since John Stockton scored 10.8 per game in 2002-03. James is probably going to finish with the highest scoring average of any oldest player ever; Abdul-Jabbar was the league’s oldest player when he averaged 23.4 points in 1985-86.

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Scot Pollard Heart Transplant

Scot Polard, who won an NBA title with the Celtics in 2008, is recovering after a heart transplant. Steven Senne/Associated Press

SCOT POLLARD had grown so accustomed to his weak and failing heart that he didn’t realize how close he was to dying.

“Oh, boy. That thing was a wreck,” the former NBA player and “Survivor” contestant told The Associated Press on Friday, a day after he was released from the hospital and two weeks after he received a heart transplant.

“The doctors immediately knew I was much closer to death once they pulled my heart out,” Pollard said. “I don’t think I would have made it another couple of weeks.”

An 11-year NBA veteran who was a member of the 2008 champion Boston Celtics, Pollard inherited a condition from his father, who died at 54, when Scot was 16. Scot Pollard’s heart deteriorated quickly after he contracted a virus in 2021; attempts to fix the problem with medication or less radical procedures were unsuccessful, leaving a transplant as the only option.

But finding a heart big enough to pump blood throughout the body of the 6-foot-11, 260-pound former NBA center was a challenge. Pollard was advised to list himself at as many transplant centers as possible (though they needed to be nearby, so he could be available within four hours if a donor heart became available.)

Pollard, 49, underwent pre-transplant testing near his home in Carmel, Indiana, and Chicago, but when he arrived at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center last month he was admitted to intensive care and bumped up to the second-highest priority for organ transplants, because of his condition.

“The fact that it came so quick probably saved my life. I don’t know how much longer I would have lasted,” Scot Pollard said. “I was just declining so fast.”


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