This achievement was particularly special to James, who grew up in Ohio idolising Jordan. James tweeted his excitement about the milestone shortly before the game.
LeBron James overtook Michael Jordan to move into fourth place on the NBA all-time scoring list Wednesday with a driving layup in the second quarter against visiting Denver.
The Los Angeles Lakers playmaker, who had matched the Chicago Bulls legend's career total of 32,292 with his first 12 points, made history on the layup with 5:38 remaining in the quarter and sank a free throw to complete a 3-point play.
During the next timeout, James went to the bench and buried his head in a towel, appearing to cry as he reflected upon the achievement of surpassing his boyhood idol.
The 34-year-old American forward, the top scorer among active players, made his points in 1,190 games compared to 1,072 for Jordan with the Bulls and Washington.
The next target for James would be retired Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant, who is third on the NBA career list with 33,643 points.
Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the NBA points record with 38,387, with long-time Utah great Karl Malone ranked second on 36,928.