LeBron James scores 20,000th point

January 17, 2013

LeBron James’s historic night came in a game against Golden State. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)

The shot that lifted LeBron James higher in the NBA history books was a floater in the lane late in the second quarter of the Miami Heat’s game against Golden State.

The basket put James over the 20,000-point mark at a younger age than any other player and, for good measure, he also topped the 5,000-assist mark in the Heat’s 92-75 victory. James, the youngest player to be drafted No. 1 overall when he was 18 in 2003, now is one of 12 players with 20,000 points, 5,000 assists and 5,000 rebounds. He’s one of 38 players who’ve scored 20,000 points.

“I’m not really a numbers, milestone guy,” James told USA Today. “As they come up on me, I live in that moment.”

Smart approach. An NBA career is a marathon, not a sprint.

“I’m just a complete basketball player. I dominate all facets of the game — rebounding, scoring, passing. I do a little bit of everything – defending. I’m not just a one-dimensional guy,” James, who finished with 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, said. “It’s just a testament to how I was brought up in the game, how people taught me the game. I just try to play the right way.”

It’s more than just that, though. Luck has played a role, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who has covered James’s entire career, noted before the game.

“Getting the 5,000 assists seems like more of an accomplishment to me than the scoring,” James said. “Chris Paul just got his 5,000th assist [last month] and it’s cool to have the chance to join him. I never have seen myself as a scorer.” [...

All of this is great fodder for examining where James is historically now that he has been playing for a decade. But when reflecting this week, he took a different viewpoint.

“It means I’ve been able to stay healthy,” said James.

That’s quite true. Since entering the NBA in 2003-04, James has missed only 33 games. He has missed fewer than 25 with actual injury, the remaining coming when sitting out games at the end of the past four seasons to rest up before playoff series. The most games he has missed for a single injury was five, when he injured his hand during a game early in the 2007-08 season. He has never missed a playoff game, playing in 115 in a row. [...]

“I’ve been able to play at a high level and I’ve had teammates that have allowed me to do it,” James said. “I don’t force scoring, it is not a main part of my game. When people are having conversations about the best scorers in the game, my name never comes up in that case.”

As James’s teammate Dwyane Wade noted, “He has so many other attributes that it’s hard to mention everything.”

And, just think, he’s only 28 years, 17 days old and was playing in just his 726th NBA game. Kobe Bryant, by comparison, was 29 when he hit 20,000 points.

“I think what’s most remarkable about it is the fact that LeBron came into the league as a complete player,” Spoelstra said. “Often times he’s a facilitator. He’s been criticized for that many times during the course of his time with us, and scoring – while that’s just one of the things that he does – he does it as well as anybody in this league.

“And the fact that he’s able to accomplish that milestone so quickly shows you how talented he is. He continues to push himself to get to a higher level.”

 

James won’t have much time to savor the game. Miami plays the Los Angeles Lakers and Bryant tonight in Staples Center.

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren · January 17, 2013