LOS ANGELES • Five of the top six all-time points leaders in the National Basketball Association (NBA) have played for the Los Angeles Lakers, such is the storied history of the franchise.
On Wednesday, LeBron James wrote his name into Lakers folklore after scoring 44 points - his highest points haul since joining the team in the summer - to leapfrog Wilt Chamberlain into fifth place in the league's all-time scoring rankings.
"The King" further burnished his legacy after a standout night at the Staples Centre saw him come within a whisker of a triple-double - he recorded 10 rebounds and nine assists - as the Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 126-117.
The visitors were paced by 31 points from Damian Lillard.
It was the fourth straight victory for the Lakers, who improved to 8-6 to move up to seventh in the Western Conference standings and James later paid tribute to Chamberlain when asked to reflect on passing the Lakers icon.
"One of the most dominant forces we ever had in our game, along with Shaq (O'Neal), one of the greatest Lakers to play the game," the 14-time All-Star, who now has 31,425 points, said of the four-time Most Valuable Player.
"People had never seen someone like that in that era. He was dominant in all walks of life, not just basketball.
NBA POINTS LEADERS
1 KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR
2 KARL MALONE
3 KOBE BRYANT
4 MICHAEL JORDAN
5 LEBRON JAMES*
6 WILT CHAMBERLAIN
7 DIRK NOWITZKI*
8 SHAQUILLE O'NEAL
"Any time my name is mentioned with some of the greats, I always think back to my hometown (of Akron in Ohio) and how far I've come. That's it for me."
The forward, who had expressed frustration earlier in the season after the Lakers' slow start to the campaign, also told reporters that he felt the team were gradually heading in the right direction.
"It's still a process for us," James said. "We've got better since September and into October, and now we've got better in November. We just want to try and continue it."
The only downside for the Lakers was an injury to veteran guard Rajon Rondo, who faces at least two weeks out with a broken hand.
James' feat drew widespread praise from his fellow players, with former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade tweeting "pay homage to Sir King James, that's respect and dope" while Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger called him "a champion".
Lakers coach Luke Walton added that it spoke volumes about the "amazing history" of the team that James, Chamberlain and fellow scoring greats O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant all wore the famed purple and gold jersey in their careers.
"You have this history here... For him (James) to be up there speaks more to what he's done over his entire career, obviously, as a player." he said. "The fact that he's in a Laker jersey as he does anything more just adds to the legacy of what the Lakers are."
Next in James' sights is Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, his boyhood idol and arguably the greatest player in NBA history.
With an average scoring rate of 26.4 points per game this term, James, who is 867 points behind Jordan, should pass him before the end of the regular season.