LeBron James may be the most complete player the NBA has ever seen and now he’s the sole member of a statistical club that further validates his place in history.
By tallying 31 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his 12th triple-double of the season and 67th of his career in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 129-123 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, James became the first player to record more than 30,000 points, 8,000 rebounds and 8,000 assists.
The feat comes just a little more than a month after James established the 30,000-point, 7,000-rebound, 7,000-assist club on January 23 – the same day he became the youngest player, and just the seventh overall, to score 30,000 points.
It’s impossible to say with certainty that we’ll never see another LeBron James, but it’s likely no one in the present or future will reach the milestones he’s set and continues to build on.
The stats only back up what we’ve witnessed for 15 years now – that no one has ever been so good in so many areas on a basketball court by blending a unique, versatile skillset with size, power, speed and durability.
“With the long list of so many great players that have come through this league, in the history of this league, for me to be the only [person] in a category, I think it’s pretty cool,” James said, via ESPN.
“It’s pretty cool. I take pride in my game. I’ve always taken pride in being a triple threat since I started playing basketball, and I never wanted to be labeled as a scorer.
“I always wanted to be labeled as just an all-around basketball player and I get more gratification out of the assists more than anything, because to get my guys great looks or they’re knocking down shots, that means a lot to me.”
Fittingly, James set the bar on the same night he closed out February by averaging a triple-double for a calendar month for the first time in his career.
He also joined Russell Westbrook, Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to average a triple-double in a calendar month in league history (minimum of five games), while being the oldest to do so at 33, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
In his 10 appearances in February, James averaged 27.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 10.5 assists and 54.6 per cent shooting. But a major chunk of that has come in the seven games James has played since Cleveland made wholesale changes at the trade deadline.
While his January numbers were nothing to sneeze at – 23.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 50.6 per cent shooting – James appeared to be affected by the Cavaliers’ toxic culture with the previous roster.
The new additions, however, have done more than just reinvigorate the team – they’ve lifted James’ spirits, allowing him to break out of his apathetic spell and play with joy once again.
“I’m just playing some good ball, and the most consistent thing for me right now is I’m available out there on the floor for my teammates,” said James. “They give me the room to go out and do what I need to do to help them as much as I can.
“And for me to have the month of February, when I averaged a triple-double for the first time in my career, I’m just trying to make plays, get rebounds and also try to score the ball a little bit as well. So, I would say for me individually, it was a pretty good month.”
It’s been easy to take James and his greatness for granted because of his longevity. But every now and again he sends a reminder of how special he has been, is and continues to be.
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