LeBron James' 36 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the Houston Rockets Wednesday night did more than help put the Lakers up 2-1 — it pushed LeBron to another all-time title.
James has now become the all-time leader in playoff wins, passing Derek Fisher, with 162.
In an age where analytics have been used for player rankings, game strategies, roster signings and perspective for the infamous greatest of all time (GOAT) conversation, LeBron James' numbers speak for themselves. During his 17th season at age 35, with countless accolades already in hand, LeBron James has been nothing short of amazing.
NBA.com’s Yash Matange highlighted that James’ eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances from 2011 to 2018 are where most of his damage was done to accomplish this historic feat; registering a playoff win-loss record of 114-54.
“It seems like he’s drinking from the fountain of youth,” Lakers' center Anthony Davis said postgame. “I’m pretty sure he’ll be setting another record he ain’t broke on Thursday.”
While others like Lakers guard Kyle Kuzma and Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson are campaigning via Twitter for James to be awarded his fifth MVP award, James' numbers this season show he’s more than deserving. For the first time in his career, he has led the league in assists with an average of 10.2 per game.
Before the start of the season, basketball trainer Cuffs the Legend challenged James to average double-digit assists. James shared his response “Got you!” via Instagram when the season ended and was confirmed the assist leader of the season, showing he still has the ability to dominate the league when he pleases.
The MVP debate isn’t the only one James' name is involved in. James has put together a resume worthy of consideration for the greatest player ever.
James' longevity and consistency is a testament to his greatness, but does it make him the greatest? Surpassing Michael Jordan as the GOAT is almost impossible. Jordan’s 6-for-6 mark in the finals versus James' current 3-5 record is a huge factor many argue James cannot catch.
However, the numbers do not lie. Earlier this season, James reached No. 3 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, surpassing the late Kobe Bryant at No. 4 and Jordan at No. 5.
With no signs of slowing down and a contract with the Lakers in effect until 2022, James is projected to eventually become the league’s all-time leading scorer. According to Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz’s projections before the 2019-2020 season, “James' average points from the last 5 seasons (26.3) multiplied by an estimated 71 games … he should be passing Malone in 2021-22 and eventually taking over [Kareem] Abdul-Jabbar’s record during the 2022-23 season. James should, with good health, become the NBA’s first-ever member of the 40,000-point club.”
As for James' quest to improve on his losing finals record, he has some work to do. Beating the Houston Rockets two more times would set up a potential cross-town conference finals matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers for the right to play the Eastern Conference champion. If LeBron can get past 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, the best in the east and win it all this year, he would join Robert Horry and John Salley as the only players to win a title with three different teams.
Seeing James be one of three players that were clearly the team’s best for every championship run, another would further ignite the “Greatest of All Time” debate between him and Michael Jordan along with the countless milestones.