With LeBron James expected to break the NBA’s all-time scoring record this week, fans eager to watch the Los Angeles Laker star vault into sports history in person will have to lay out big bucks.
Lower-level seats for Tuesday’s game in Los Angeles at Crypto.com Arena against the Oklahoma City Thunder start at $1,067 a piece, according to Vivid Seats. Floor seats from Ticketmaster are going for between $415 and $1,000. The average ticket price for a Lakers game has jumped 211% since the season started, Vivid Seats told CBS MoneyWatch.
A couple of factors are driving up prices, said Patrick Rishe, a sports business professor at Washington University in St. Louis. First, James is likely to break the record on the Lakers’ home floor, and to add to the drama, the player he is set to surpass is fellow Laker legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Second, Southern California is home to many high-income people who can afford a thousand-dollar ticket, which is also pushing up demand, Rishe said. “People want to say they were there,” he said. “People just enjoy being present when they see history, especially when you’re talking about a record you’ll likely never going to see occur again in our lifetime.”
James’ march toward history has captivated fans across sports. The last time someone broke an NBA record was in December 2021, when Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry became the all-time leader in three-pointers made.
James must score at least 36 points to beat Jabbar’s league record of 38,387, set in 1989. Abdul-Jabbar is expected to be in attendance when James eclipses his record, according to CBSSports.com.
The NBA has already changed its national television schedule for Tuesday, rearranging things to get the Lakers-Thunder game into the second slot of the usual TNT doubleheader for the night. Commissioner Adam Silver said the league wants to make sure it gets as many eyeballs as possible on the record-breaking moment. Silver also said the league will pay tribute to James, once he surpasses Abdul-Jabbar, with a larger-scale celebration at All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City later this month.
As with any live event, Lakers tickets this week are pricier the closer seats get to the action. Two tickets behind the hoops for Tuesday’s game are priced on Vivid Seats at $69,162 each, while another pair of tickets nine rows back are $42,845.
Steve Inman, a social media manager, already has a seat on Tuesday’s game despite living on the opposite side of the country. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a resident told CBS MoneyWatch he plans to attend with his uncle, who is a Lakers season ticket holder.
“I don’t believe anyone is ever going to break his record,” Inman, 30, said of James’ exploits. “For the rest of our lives, he’s going to have this record. I’ll be able to witness this and share it with my family, my future kids and their kids forever.”
If James doesn’t break the record Tuesday, his next opportunity will come on February 9 when the Lakers host the Milwaukee Bucks. Prices for those tickets have shot up from $474 in October to $2,595 on Tuesday, a 447% increase, according to Vivid Seats. And two especially prime seats are going for nearly $107,000.
“Fans think LeBron is unlikely to score 36 points against the Thunder and is more likely to break the record against the Bucks,” the company told CBS MoneyWatch.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.