FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Tuesday night in Los Angeles, some NBA history was made, as LeBron James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the league’s all-time scoring leader.
Kareem set the record nearly 39 years ago, and one of our employees witnessed it in person.
“My dad’s like, ‘hey do you wanna get tickets,’ and I was like ‘yeah,’ and we had great seats, and we got to witness history, it was awesome,” says Kevin Mahan.
Mahan is our station’s chief photographer. He was a 14-year-old high school freshman living in Las Vegas on April 5th, 1984, and he was in the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas that night when Kareem hit the sky hook against the Utah Jazz and passed Wilt Chamberlain for first place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Mahan took some photos that night, and he tweeted out a couple of them featuring Kareem, after LeBron broke Kareem’s record on Tuesday. One shows Abdul-Jabbar sitting on the Lakers bench alongside teammates Byron Scott and Bob McAdoo, and another one shows the former NBA great attempting his signature sky hook in warmups.
Kevin and his late father Art were sitting in the lower bowl that night.
“It’s crazy because as a sports fan,” says Mahan. “That’s almost like a bucket list item, and I was lucky enough, just by sheer luck to be in attendance when that happened, and I’m forever thankful.”
The Utah jazz were actually the home team that night, as they had announced before that season that were going to play 11 games in Las Vegas at the brand new Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV that season, as a way to generate more revenue and more fans, something they were struggling with in Utah at that time.
Art bought tickets to all eleven games, and history just happened to fall into their lap in April with the Lakers in town – a team that was a big draw in the Las Vegas market at that time.
“Me personally, I’m a huge Kareem fan, and to be able to break Wilt Chamberlain’s, another Laker’s record, was fantastic, so those emotions came back last night when I saw LeBron do it, so Laker, Laker, Laker, it’s all good.”
Kevin told me he used a Kodak disc camera that night to take the photos.
His mother moved to Florida last year, and in cleaning out their stuff, sent Kevin some photo albums that included some pictures from that historic night.
“You know the 80’s, you couldn’t see what you shot until like two weeks later, when you got the roll of film developed, so I’m amazed that I even got some stuff that was in focus and in frame.”
Kevin says he doesn’t remember anything about the other 10 Jazz games in Las Vegas that season, but will always remember that special night in April of 1984.
“The next day at school, all my friends were like, ‘hey we saw you on the postgame, jumping up and down behind James Worthy,’ and I was like, ‘yeah, that was me.'”