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Analysis: LeBron has defied odds, with no drop-off in sight

LeBron James is 38 years old. He is in Season 20 of his NBA career. He is, by conventional basketball-playing standards, ancient. History says his decline should have started already. Except it hasn’t. Not even close. And count that as just another example of what sets James apart from so many other greats, so many other superstars of their sport who were good enough for long enough to climb atop some lists in the record books.

LeBron James makes NBA history on a star-filled night in LA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA career scoring record in an arena filled with stars and rocked by eager fans anticipating a crowning moment in his 20-year career. James chased the 36 points necessary to surpass Abdul-Jabbar with determination, scoring 20 in the first half. The fans roared with every point while he inched toward the mark held since April 1984 by Abdul-Jabbar, who watched the game from a baseline seat near the Lakers’ bench. James’ mother, wife and three children also watched from courtside amid the thousands who rose in waves of anticipation nearly every time James touched the ball.

LeBron’s off-court legacy complements his basketball success

LeBron James is soon going to be in the NBA record books as the most prolific scorer ever. But for all his accomplishments on the basketball court, it is James’ ambitious pursuits off-the-court that may ultimately distinguish his legacy from other superstar athletes’. James co-founded an entertainment company, bought stakes in professional baseball and soccer franchises and, with help from product endorsements, his net worth is estimated to be above $1 billion. The off-court achievement James is most proud of is working to uplift the lives of people in his hometown of Akron. Many athletes have excelled in one or more of these areas. But few have done all of them as well as James.

AP PHOTOS: LeBron James’ run to the NBA scoring record

Associated Press photographers have captured LeBron James for the entirety of his 20-year career, starting from when he was an 18-year-old rookie to now as a 38-year-old who just became the most prolific scorer in NBA history. That covers both his stints in Cleveland, his two championships in Miami, the third title when he returned to the Cavaliers and a fourth inside the pandemic bubble for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. Check out some highlights of James’ run to the NBA scoring record, as captured by the AP.

Brittney Griner absent from USA camp, but keeping in touch

Brittney Griner texted her good friend Diana Taurasi on Tuesday morning asking how the USA Basketball training camp was going. Griner was back in Arizona, choosing to skip the camp in Minnesota so she can be with her wife and recover from her time in a Russian jail. She was traded in a dramatic prisoner swap in December. Taurasi said the two talk regularly now that Griner is home in Phoenix. They workout together as well as chat and text each other often. Griner has said she’ll play for Phoenix again this season although she’s still an unsigned free agent. She hasn’t talked about her international future and potentially playing for the U.S. at the Olympics next year in Paris.

South Carolina’s Staley defends team after Auriemma comments

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina coach Dawn Staley has strongly defended her team in response to comments by UConn coach Geno Auriemma after the top-ranked Gamecocks’ 81-77 victory over the Huskies on Sunday. Staley spoke on her radio call-in show Tuesday night, saying she’s angry when her team is wrongly criticized for its success. Auriemma said Huskies guard/forward Lou Lopez Senechal was bruised during the game. He said it’s “appalling” how teams play against her and said it’s “not basketball.” Staley says she’s tired of her team getting put down for winning. She says her teams play the right way.

Mahomes, Hurts buoy Super Bowl teams amid QB injury spate

The Chiefs and Eagles are bringing MVP finalists Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts to the Super Bowl to cap a season in which the NFL had a glaring amount of instability at quarterback. A total of 68 QBs started at least one game, a record for a non-strike year. Nearly half of all changes during the regular season were because of injuries at the most important position, despite the league’s efforts to try to keep QBs healthy. A record 13 teams used at least three starters, including the San Francisco 49ers, whose season ended in the NFC title game when they had no healthy quarterbacks available.

NFL’s QB shuffle puts premium on offensive, defensive plans

The rash of quarterback injuries in the NFL made developing a game plan even more challenging. Game week preparations are still geared to developing offensive schemes around the projected starter and opponents plotting to derail  those plans. But everyone is well aware how quickly that can change. So coaches and coordinators on both sides of the ball have to be even more flexible to adapt. The starting quarterback gets most of the practice snaps with the first-team offense. The backup is limited to running the scout team and has no chance to build chemistry with the starters. Defensive coaches and players make similar adjustments.

Italy’s Bassino beats Shiffrin to gold in super-G at worlds

MERIBEL, France (AP) — Marta Bassino has won the women’s super-G to give Italy its second gold medal at the Alpine skiing world championships and Mikaela Shiffrin took silver. Shiffrin led Bassino by three-tenths of a second at the second split but couldn’t match the Italian’s pace in the last part of the Roc de Fer course and finished 0.11 seconds behind. Cornelia Huetter of Austria and Kajsa Vickhoff Lie of Norway both came 0.33 behind to share the bronze medal. The result came two days after Shiffrin was heading for a possible medal in the combined event before straddling the third-to-last gate in the slalom portion.

Svitolina calls for Russians to be banned from Olympics

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian tennis player and Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina has pushed for a total ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2024 Paris Games in an interview with The Associated Press. Svitolina won her bronze medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. She is visiting Ukraine for the first time since Russia invaded the country last year and she is the latest to call for a complete ban on athletes from Russia and Belarus because of the war. She says allowing Russians and Belarusians to compete as neutral athletes would be “the wrong message.”