King James Continues To Play Like Royalty In His 15th Season
With their game against the Houston Rockets on Thursday, LeBron James has now played more regular season games in his NBA career than the man he is often compared to - Michael Jordan.
Cleveland’s 113-117 loss to the Houston Rockets was the 1,073rd NBA regular season game that LeBron James has played. It’s one more than the 1,072 games that Jordan logged in his legendary NBA career. But what makes LeBron’s milestone impressive is that he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, not even if he is already playing in his 15th NBA season.
No, we’re not saying that James is better in that regard ( or in any other department for that matter ) because James began his NBA career much younger at age 18 while MJ started playing in the NBA when he was already 21. Let us not also forget the fact that in between His Airness’ 15 NBA seasons, he had two retirements which saw him miss four seasons. James meanwhile has played 15 straight seasons at full steam. And given that he started playing at age 18, he is still in his athletic prime at age 32.
That’s the reason why James continues to play like the King of the NBA despite being one of the ‘older’ statesmen in the NBA today. Sure, the Cavs’ are currently struggling as a team and in the standings but despite that, King James is putting up yet another sensational season.
57 Point Explosion
Last week against the Washington Wizards, James became the 7th player in NBA history to score at least 29,000 career points. In doing so, he also became the youngest player to achieve the feat at 32 years and 308 days, beating Kobe Bryant’s previous record by 256 days.
James scored 57 points in that game, the second highest scoring game of his career. It was the 11th 50-point game of LeBron’s career, tying him with Allen Iverson for 6th most in the history of the NBA. It was also James’ first 50 point game since he scored a career high 61 points against the Charlotte Bobcats on March 3, 2014.
With that 57-point explosion against the Wizards, James also joined Kobe Bryant as the only players in the last fifty years to score at least 50 points on or after their 15th NBA season. It can be recalled that Bryant scored 60 points in his final NBA game during his 20th NBA season.
Double Digit Streak
During that game, King James also made a career-best 23 field goals. That output pushed his career total to 10,528 field goals, pushing him past Kevin Garnett ( 10,505 ) and Jerry West ( 10,513 ) to 11th place on the all-time list. James also recorded his 800th consecutive double digit scoring game, making him the only player other than Michael Jordan ( 866 ) to reach the 800 game milestone.
Assuming James plays every game and scores in double figures in each one of those games, he will break Michael Jordan’s record on March 30, 2018 against the New Orleans Pelicans.
James’ double digit scoring game streak would’ve been 961 ( counting up to the Wizards game ) had it not been for a game against the Milwaukee Bucks on January 5, 2007. During that game, James scored just 8 points, ending what was then 161 straight games with double digit scoring for the King.
That 8 point game against the Bucks in 2007 was a rarity. LeBron James has more 50 points games ( 11 ) than games where he failed to score in double figures. In his record-breaking NBA career, there have only been a total of eight ( 8 ) games where James has scored less than 10 points in a game. In the playoffs, there have only been two games in LeBron’s 15 year career where he didn’t score in double figures.
But last week’s 57 point night and 29,000th career point aren’t the only individual highlights for LeBron James this season. Without Kyrie Irving, James has been the focal point of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ offense hence he’s had to score more points than usual. He’s also had to do more playmaking chores with Kyrie gone and Isaiah Thomas still on sick bay.
King James is averaging 28.9 points per game, the most he’s averaged since 2009-10, which was his final season in Cleveland before going to Miami. His 19.0 field goal attempts per game is also his most during the same period. But James isn’t just getting the added scoring load. He is also posting career highs in assists ( 9.1 assists per game ), free throw percentage ( 83.9%) and field goal percentage ( .598 ).
Apples And Oranges
James also leads the NBA this season for most games with a 27-7-7 statline. Currently, DeMarcus Cousins, Lonzo Ball, James Harden, Damian Lillard and Khris Middleton have one each while Russell Westbrook and Giannis Antetokounmpo have two such games apiece. On the other hand, James has posted that statline five times already in this young season.
With the rate that he is currently still going, LeBron James is expected to topple more NBA records as his career continues to unfold. As for his team however, it remains to be seen what the Cavs’ can make of the current season. Cleveland is just 5-7 and is just ranked 9th in the Eastern Conference standings. This is an 82-game season though and the Cavs have been here before. Isaiah Thomas has yet to play a single game too. So don’t count them Cavs out yet, not especially with the King still playing like a royal.
As for the MJ comparison, let’s leave it at that and let history be the judge. Not only did they play for different eras, they are very different basketball players. Comparing them would be like apples and oranges. Having said that though, there is no denying that LeBron James ranks up there with MJ. King James has played one remarkable season after another for fifteen years now. This year is no different. And that’s greatness we’re witnessing.
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