LeBron James has reached so many milestones in his NBA career it may be easy to lose track.
Just a point shy of turning into the youngest player in league history to score 20,000 points, James knew exactly where he stood. He worked a switch off Draymond Green on the wing, dribbled past David Lee and pulled up in the lane from 12 feet to make an off-balance jumper with 2:45 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
On a trip that has had more bad news than good, James rewrote the headlines and the record books again.
The 3-time NBA MVP also surpassed 5,000 assists on a landmark night, leading the Miami Heat to a 92-75 victory over the undermanned Golden State Warriors. He finished with 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in just 30 minutes to grab his last slice of history.
In the locker room after the game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and team president Pat Riley took a second give James the game ball and recognize his latest record.
Players roared and huddled in the center of the room. Then, as Spoelstra related, ”Everybody took a shot at him – a punch, a jab, and an elbow, whatever they could get in before he started hitting back.”
”That’s a big-time moment,” Spoelstra announced. ”He’s a special guy. He’s a special player. He is a once-in-a-generational type of player.”
James eclipsed both marks before halftime, helped Miami go ahead by 34 points in the 3rd quarter and authorized Spoelstra to rest his starters – without debate this time – for the 4th. Dwyane Wade added 15 points; 8 rebounds and 6 assists and Mario Chalmers scored 15 for the Heat, who had lost 3 of their last 4 away from home.
James already had been the youngest player in NBA history to win rookie of the year, record a triple-double, score 1,000 points, score 10,000 points and win MVP honors at an All-Star game.
Add another to the list.
”It means everything,” James expounded. ”It means a lot. Firstly, like I continue to say, it means I have been able to be healthy. To be out on the floor and do what I love to do, I love the game of basketball and I try and give everything to the game. And with some luck it will continue to give back to me.” Basketball odds
James, who made 11 of 20 shots from the floor, needed 18 points entering the game to become the 38th NBA player to reach the milestone.
Previously, the youngest player to score 20,000 points was L.A Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who got there when he was 29 years, 122 days old. James was 28 years, 17 days last Wednesday.
Only Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain (29 years, 134 days) and Michael Jordan (29 years, 326 days) reached the most recent marker before turning 30.
James also is the 13th player with 20,000 points and 5,000 assists. The only active players to reach both marks are Bryant and Boston’s Kevin Garnett.