As LeBron James approaches Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and is set to become the NBA’s career scoring leader, the journey has included some memorable moments.
And there were many. Many.
Over the course of 20 seasons and four NBA championships, James’ list of unforgettable nights is endless. But here are five that stand out.
His career-high scoring game came on March 3, 2014, when James, playing with a mask to protect his face from a broken face, scored 61 points against the Charlotte Bobcats, setting a Miami Heat scoring record that still stands.
He made 22 of 33 shots in the Heat’s 124-107 victory. He made his first eight 3-pointers, the last of which was officially listed as 29 feet but appeared to be deeper.
Even the Bobcats were impressed.
“You take away his 61 points,” Charlotte Al Jefferson said, “and we still had a chance at the end.”
Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals against Miami didn’t get off to a great start. The Heat were in Boston down 3-2 in the series, one loss away from being eliminated and — after losing in the NBA Finals last year — in James’ first season in Miami, they likely must win to avoid a Miami overhaul. the list.
James missed his first shot.
He made his next 12 shots.
He finished with 45 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, and cameras caught him playing during a game that’s still a meme today. Miami won 98-79, came home to beat the Celtics in Game 7 and went on to beat Oklahoma City for James’ first NBA title.
“He was absolutely fearless tonight and it was contagious,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
On May 31, 2007, James and the Cavaliers traveled to Detroit for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, with the series tied 2–2 in what would become a double-overtime thriller.
Drew Gooden hit a free throw with 2:49 left in regulation to tie Cleveland at 88-84. And it was the last point he or any Cavs player not wearing No. 23 would score that night.
James scored Cleveland’s final 25 points and 29 of the Cavs’ final 30 points to lift his team to a 109-107 victory and a 3-2 series lead. He even had the game-winning layup with 2.2 seconds left.
He finished with 48 points; Cleveland closed the series with a victory in Game 6 and sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time.
“We threw everything we had at him,” said Detroit guard Chauncey Billups, now the coach of the Portland Trail Blazers. “We just couldn’t stop him.”
James promised Cleveland a championship. And then he left for Miami in 2010, a move that stunned Cavs fans for years, especially after he won two titles there.
But when he returned in 2014, all was forgiven. Two years later, on June 19, 2016, he finally delivered what Cleveland had been waiting generations for.
He had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, along with a putback block on Golden State’s Andre Iguodala that tied the game with 2 minutes remaining. The Cavs went to the Warriors’ court and dethroned the champions, winning 93-89 and coming back from a 3-1 series deficit.
It was the first major championship for the city of Cleveland since the Browns in 1964.
James’ fourth title had almost no fans there. A few team employees and a very select group of guests were the only ones inside the balloon at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Finals.
It capped a season delayed by the pandemic and one in which the Lakers had to mourn the death of Kobe Bryant earlier that year.
James again recorded a triple-double as part of the title holders, this time with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. The Lakers won 106-93 to take a 4-2 series lead.
“Our organization wants their respect. Laker Nation wants their respect,” James said that night. “And I want my damn respect too.”
AP NBA. https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and: https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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