On Tuesday night, LeBron James continued his mastery, his dominance, his ability to play at another level — all of which means only one thing: It’s time for more King James-vs.-Air Jordan talk.
For the sixth straight game, James scored at least 30 points and shot better than 60 percent from the field, becoming the only player in NBA history to do so over six games (according to the Elias Sports Bureau). As the Miami Heat recorded the franchise’s 1,000th victory, James shot 73.3 percent (okay, the opponent was Portland) and finished with 30 points. Before this run by James, only Moses Malone and Adrian Dantley had managed to score at least 30 and shoot better than 60 percent over five consecutive games.
“I’m at a loss for words,” James said afterward. “Like I say over and over, I know the history of the game. I know how many unbelievable players who came through the ranks, who paved the way for me and my teammates. And for me to be in the record books by myself with such a stat – any stat – it’s big-time.”
Over his six-game streak, James has made 66 of 92 shots (71.7 percent); in the paint, has has made a ridiculous 46 of 54. Naturally, on a week when MJ hits 50 (years, not points), he’s going to be hauled out as the measuring stick for James’s progress.
Through 738 games (via ESPN), Jordan’s winning percentage was .656, James’s is .645. And, of course, Jordan, too, had been named MVP three times by then. (Plus, he could fly.) But here’s where the conversation really has to end, for now: Jordan was 3-0 in the NBA Finals at that point. James, in his 10th season, is 1-2.
But enough already with the comparisons. While James may have a new awareness of just where he stands in the NBA at the age of 28, there’s still a long way to go, Israel Gutierrez says:
The way I see it, it took last year’s playoffs for LeBron to realize just how dominant he can be. Now he realizes that, yes, he can be in Jordan’s neighborhood by the time he retires, so he’s setting goals and making it happen.
He’s on his way there. Finishing the deal is another story.
For J.A. Adande, it’s all about postseason play and James trails Jordan by five NBA titles:
My criterion for ranking players is this: Whom would I want if I had to win a playoff game? The answer — for the past three decades and possibly for all time — is Jordan. While LeBron’s Game 6 masterpiece in Boston last year was as good as any playoff performance you’ll ever see, Jordan has the more extensive collection, with the “sick game” in Utah ranking at the top. That game was the ultimate testament to Michael’s will to overcome physical impairments. For LeBron, it will always be a quest to maximize his physical gifts.
James is also getting plenty of help from the presence of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, who combined for 56 points Tuesday night. It makes for one big happy family, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman:
Could LeBron be shooting at such percentages without opponents occupied by the likes of Wade, Bosh or even the 3-point shooters? Probably not for such a sustained period, with opposing defenses otherwise “loading” to him just as the Heat have with their defensive approaches over the years against opponents with singular scoring stars, such as Allen Iverson and even Carmelo Anthony. It is among the reasons LeBron sought out the opportunity to play alongside Wade and Bosh. Everyone sure seemed happy after Tuesday’s game, which perhaps was the quintessential Big Three performance.
Can James keep up this remarkable run, with the Heat heading to Oklahoma City on Thursday night?