MIAMI (AP) — If the number of an NBA player's birthday candles were proportionate to his point total, then Miami Heat star LeBron James would need help putting out the fire atop his red velvet cake.
The four-time MVP turns 29 on Monday, with 21,819 points.
No other NBA player has ever scored more points by that age.
Granted, the youngest-to-score comparisons are a terrible measure because not everyone enters the NBA at 18 like James. It took James 726 games to score 20,000 points; it took Wilt Chamberlain a mere 499. Michael Jordan had nearly 4,000 fewer points on his 29th birthday, neither Kareem Abdul-Jabbar nor Oscar Robertson were even to the 17,000-point mark yet and Karl Malone was still a few games shy of scoring his 15,000th point.
Still, where James is now begs the question: Exactly how high on the scoring list will he be before taking a jersey off for the last time?
He passed No. 30 Gary Payton and No. 31 Larry Bird on the career scoring list last week — in the same game, no less. He'll likely catch Clyde Drexler to become No. 28 sometime in January. It's not beyond realistic realms of possibility that James could be one of the game's top 10 career scorers by the end of the 2015-16 season.
By then, he'll only be 32.
And all the points have come with him often passing up shots for assists. He's currently nine shy of 5,500 of those for his career. Among players who were listed at 6-foot-8 or taller, only Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen, Bird and Abdul-Jabbar have more.
James often speaks of how he wants to be considered the greatest to ever play the game. The numbers suggest he's got a shot.
Five things to watch this week:
WEST POWERS: Portland at Oklahoma City on Tuesday night is the last West vs. West matchup of 2013. Maybe that's fitting, since it would seem like there's a real chance of these two being the last teams standing out West when the season ends.
HAWKS REELING: Atlanta was looking like the clear No. 3 team in the East behind Indiana and Miami, before Al Horford went down with another torn pectoral muscle. Facing Boston, Golden State and Chicago this week should offer some clues on how the Hawks plan to regroup.
LOVE ROLLING: Kevin Love has been MVP-worthy over his last 10 games for Minnesota. He's averaging 30.8 points and 14.1 rebounds over that stretch. This week, he and the Timberwolves stay home to see Dallas, New Orleans and Oklahoma City.
STEPH SIZZLING: He's still feared as a shooter, and now Stephen Curry is in another world as a passer. The Golden State star enters the week averaging 23.4 points and 9.6 assists. How many players have averaged that for a full season? Six, none since Tim Hardaway in 1991-92.
GRIZZLIES' CHANCE?: Memphis has four games this week, all against non-divisional opponents. Good thing: The Grizzlies are 0-8 against the Southwest, 13-8 vs. everyone else.
STAT LINE OF THE WEEK: Chris Bosh's 37-point, 10-rebound night in Portland on Saturday, leading Miami to a win even with James sitting out injured. Bosh's 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left sealed it for the Heat.