LOS ANGELES — LeBron James was out of the Los Angeles Lakers’ lineup for the first game since he became the NBA’s career scoring leader.
The Lakers announced Thursday afternoon that James wouldn’t play against the Milwaukee Bucks, who arrived on an eight-game winning streak as they chase the Celtics for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. James is nursing a sore left ankle that has periodically forced him to miss games this season, including six since November.
James was going to participate in a pregame ceremony honoring his achievement at the Lakers’ downtown arena, however.
James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record of 38,387 points late in the third quarter of his 38-point performance against Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. Abdul-Jabbar shared a warm hug and a symbolic moment with James on the court Tuesday, and he will participate in Thursday's ceremony as well.
The 38-year-old James has missed 12 total games in his 20th NBA season. The fans who spent untold thousands to secure tickets for what they hoped would be the record-breaking game Thursday night now won't get to see James in uniform at all.
James’ absence and the Lakers’ flurry of trades over the past two days left them with only eight or nine players in uniform against Milwaukee. The 13th-place Lakers fell to 25-30 with their loss to the Thunder on James’ historic night.