LeBron James approaches Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and is about to become the top scorer in the history of the nbathroughout a career that has included several memorable moments.
There have been many of these. Many.
In a span of 20 seasons, including four NBA championships, James’ list of unforgettable nights is long. But here are five that stand out:
James scored the most points of his career in a game on March 3, 2014, when he played while wearing a mask to protect himself from a facial fracture. He ran over the Bobcats from Charlotte with 61 points, to establish a record that is still valid in the franchise of the Miami Heat.
He made 22 of his 33 shots in a 124-107 Heat win. He hit his first eight 3-pointers. The last of these reached an official distance of 29 feet (8.8 meters), but seemed longer.
Even the Bobcats were in awe.
“Take away his 61 points and we would have had some chance at the end."said Al Jefferson of Charlotte.
The sixth game of the Eastern Conference final did not start in a very good way for Miami. The Heat were in Boston, down in the series 3-2 and one loss away from elimination.
A year earlier, he had lost the NBA Finals, in James’ first season with the Heat. So a win seemed like the only way for Miami to avoid a roster rebuild.
James missed his first shot. He hit the next 12.
He finished with 45 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and a penetrating gaze that was caught on camera and is still used as a tool for memes. Miami won 98-79, came home to defeat the Celtics in Game 7 and ended up beating Oklahoma City to give James an NBA crown.
“He had no fear tonight, and it rubbed off on him,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said then.
On May 31, 2007, James and the Cavaliers visited Detroit for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, tied 2-2. The match was a classic suspense that required double overtime.
Drew Gooden made a free throw with 2:49 remaining in regulation to pull Cleveland within 88-84. And that was the last time he or any Cavs player not wearing No. 23 scored that night.
James contributed the final 25 points for Cleveland and 29 of the final 30 for the Cavs, who prevailed 109-107 and took a 3-2 series lead. He even made the final layup, a layup with 2.2 seconds left.
He finished with 48 points. Cleveland wrapped up the series with a Game 6 victory and sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time.
“We put everything we had to stop him."said Detroit guard Chauncey Billups, who is now the coach of the Portland Trail Blazers. “We just couldn’t stop it”.
James had promised Cleveland a championship. But he left in 2010 for Miami, a decision that resented Cavs fans for years, particularly after the star won two titles with the Heat.
But in 2014, when he returned, all was forgiven. Two years later, on June 19, 2016, she finally delivered what Cleveland had waited for generations.
He had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, as well as chasing down Andre Iguodala and blocking his shot, keeping the game tied with less than two minutes to play. The Cavs went to the Golden State Warriors court and dethroned the champions, winning 93-89 to cap a 3-1 Finals deficit.
It was the first major sports title for Cleveland since the Browns won football in 1964, before the Super Bowl era.
James’ fourth title came when there was practically no public. Only a handful of team employees and a very select group of guests attended the “bubble" of Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat there in the 2020 NBA Finals.
This marked the end of a season long interrupted by the pandemic. At the beginning of that year, the Lakers also mourned the death of Kobe Bryant.
Once again, James contributed a triple double in the game that clinched the title, with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. The Lakers won 106-93 and took the series 4-2.
“Our organization wants your respect. Laker Nation wants their respect,” James said that night. “And I want fucking respect too.”