Memorable LeBron James moments as he closes in on NBA record
As LeBron James approaches Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and on the verge of becoming the NBA’s career scoring leader, the journey included several memorable moments.
And there have been many. Lots.
Across 20 seasons and four NBA championships, James’ list of memorable nights is endless. But here are five that stand out.
The highest-scoring game of his career came on March 3, 2014, when James – who played with a mask to protect a fractured face – played with the Charlotte Bobcats and scored 61 points to set a Miami Heat record that still exists.
He made 22 of 33 shots in a 124-107 win through the Heat. He made his first eight 3-pointers, the last of which was officially listed as from 29 feet but appeared to be deeper.
Even the Bobcats were impressed.
“You’re taking away his 61 points,” said Charlotte’s Al Jefferson, “and we still had a fighting chance there at the end.”
Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals didn’t start with Miami in great form. The Heat were in Boston and were 3-2 behind the series, one loss away from elimination and — after losing the NBA Finals the year before, the first season of James’ tenure in Miami — they most likely needed a win to get to Miami the list to save from overhaul.
James missed his first shot.
He made his next 12 shots.
He finished the game with 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists – and an intense look cameras gave him during the game is still a meme today. Miami won 98-79, came home to beat the Celtics in Game 7 and beat Oklahoma City for James’ first NBA title.
“He was absolutely fearless tonight and it was contagious,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
On May 31, 2007, James and the Cavaliers headed to Detroit for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, a 2-2 drawn series that would become a double overtime thriller.
Drew Gooden grabbed a free throw with 2:49 left to draw Cleveland within 88-84. And that was the last point he, or any Cavs player not wearing the No. 23, would score that night.
James scored Cleveland’s last 25 points — and 29 of the Cavs’ last 30 — to lead his team to a 109-107 win and a 3-2 lead in the series. He even had the game winner, a layup with 2.2 seconds remaining.
He finished with 48 points; Cleveland ended the streak with a Game 6 win, sending James to the NBA Finals for the first time.
“We threw everything we had at him,” said Detroit guard Chauncey Billups, now the Portland Trail Blazers coach. “We just couldn’t stop him.”
James had promised Cleveland a championship. And then he went to Miami in 2010, a move that let Cavs fans down for years — especially when he won two titles there.
But when he returned in 2014, he was all forgiven. Two years later – on June 19, 2016 – he finally delivered what Cleveland had been waiting for generations.
He had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists and a chase down block from Golden State’s Andre Iguodala to tie the game with just under 2 minutes to go. The Cavs took to the Warriors floor and dethroned the champions, winning 93-89 and capping a comeback 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 came with almost no fans there. A handful of team members and a very select group of guests were the only ones in the bubble at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Finals.
It capped a season delayed by the pandemic and one that saw the Lakers mourn the death of Kobe Bryant earlier in the year.
James again had a triple-double in the title win, this time 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. The Lakers won 106-93 and won the series 4-2.
“Our organization wants their respect. Laker Nation wants their respect,” James said that night. “And I want my damn respect, too.”
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