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Saturday Sports: LeBron James shoots for NBA scoring record; trade rumors for Kyrie Irving


And now it's time for sports.


SIMON: LeBron James closes in on an all-time record. The NBA trade deadline approaches. And the Boston Bruins, on a tear. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media joins us. Good morning, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. How are you?

SIMON: I'm fine, thanks. How are you?

BRYANT: I'm good. I'm good. I'm in the house.

SIMON: Cold? Yeah, that's what I was going to ask. New England?

BRYANT: It's only minus 11 here. We're good.

SIMON: Oh, my word. Look, LeBron James is just 63 points away from breaking the NBA's all-time scoring record held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Help us put this record into perspective. We're talking about a man who came to the NBA right out of high school.

BRYANT: Incredible. I think the most incredible thing about LeBron James - I always try to figure out what it is about him that you sort of admire the most. Is it, one, the fact that he has absolutely fulfilled every promise?

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: People were talking about him when he was 13 years old.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: And he has essentially done everything that has been asked of him. He's a four-time champion. He's won championships as the lead guy with three different teams, which no other player has ever done. He's - the thing about this record - Kareem's record felt like it was unassailable for all those years. And the thing about LeBron is that most times when you get to this point, you've been in the league 20 years.


BRYANT: Normally, you are compiling when you hit these all-time numbers. You're not in your prime anymore. You're not a great player. But you've been around long enough, and you're putting up enough numbers to hit the all-time mark. He's still a great player.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: He's not the best player in the league. But in a short series, do you really want to face LeBron James?


BRYANT: He's still the best player on his team. And he's doing it at a level and in a way where - 38-year-old legs aren't supposed to be doing this.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: He's just an incredible, incredible player.

SIMON: Kyrie Irving, once LeBron's teammate in Cleveland, has reportedly asked to be traded from the Brooklyn Nets. Between not getting vaccinated and making anti - you know - semitic posts...

BRYANT: (Laughter).

SIMON: ...He's had an eventful time in Brooklyn. Trade deadline's Thursday. Where do you see him winding up?

BRYANT: Well, were he - the leading candidate is the Lakers, that he and LeBron James...


BRYANT: ...Are going to be reunited, where they won the championship with the Cavaliers when Kyrie Irving hit the biggest shot of his and LeBron James' life...


BRYANT: ...Winning and bringing the title home and beating the 73-win Warriors. It's a crazy amount of bad timing for Kyrie considering that you demand a trade after your team got beat by 43 points by the first-place Boston Celtics.

SIMON: Timing.

BRYANT: But I understand it from a business standpoint from Irving. He can be a free agent at the end of the season. He can walk. And I think what he wants is that security. And if you're not going to give me - he only wants $198 million, Scott. He wants Scott Simon NPR money. And, you know, nobody...

SIMON: Oh, mercy.

BRYANT: Not that many people get that.


BRYANT: So I have a feeling that...

SIMON: You know, someone on some website's going to believe that little joke of yours, but...

BRYANT: (Laughter) Yeah. It's been a really tumultuous year for him. And it's a hard time to - I have a hard time thinking...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...With everything that's gone down with the Nets, that they're going to buckle here. But maybe they'll hold their ground and say, you're not going anywhere.

SIMON: Half a minute left. Bitter cold in the Northeast in Boston, but the Bruins are hot. How great are they?

BRYANT: Unbelievable numbers, historical pace. I still have to say - and they're a joy to watch. But I have to say, Scott, that I still look at Tampa Bay as the best team until somebody knocks them out. They're the three-time East champs, and they've won the Stanley Cup two out of the last three years. A Boston-Tampa Bay Eastern Conference final is what I'm looking for. But right now, the Bruins are doing things that we have not seen in a very long time. Great hockey this year.

SIMON: Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media speaking with us from the great, cold Northeast. Have a cup of cocoa on us.

BRYANT: (Laughter).

SIMON: Take care, my friend.

BRYANT: Stay warm, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF YAMI/HIKARI'S "APRICITY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.