On March 27, 2004, the New Jersey Nets allowed a 19-year-old LeBron James to score a then-career high 41 points on them in the 69th game of his career, when he was a rookie with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets were obviously disappointed with the three-point defeat and the performance that led to it, but they can now take some measure of solace in the fact that James, 19 years later, has now done that against every single team in the NBA.
On Tuesday, James dropped 46 points on the Los Angeles Clippers, who were the final team on his 40-point bucket list. In the 1,404th game of his career, he has now scored at least 40 against all 30 NBA teams. It was fitting to see the performance come against the Clippers, as they had held James to just 24.1 points per game in his career, which was tied for the lowest mark of any team. That honor now belongs to the Detroit Pistons alone thanks to Tuesday’s explosion.
James is well on his way to a number of scoring landmarks — and aside from dropping 40 against the only team he previously hadn’t, he knocked down a career-high nine 3-pointers Tuesday night.
“I’ve got to this place by not even thinking about it,” James said after the Lakers’ 133-115 loss. “Just being in the moment, trying to play the game the right way. Even [Tuesday night], as well as I shot the ball, I was still trying to distribute to my guys, to make sure they felt some type of rhythm. That’s just always how I’ve played the game.”
James is obviously on track to become the league’s all-time leading scorer, a mark that will likely early next month. The 46 points he scored on Tuesday also took him beyond 30 points per game for the season. He’s now at roughly 30.2, just off of last season’s 30.3 and within striking distance of his career high of 31.4. It goes without saying that James is the highest-scoring 38-year-old in NBA history, but since his birthday in December, he’s now up to a league-best 36.1 points per game.
The first 40-point game of LeBron’s career was so long ago that the team it came against has moved twice since 2004 and no longer plays in the state that it once represented. It’s been almost two decades now and James can still hang 40 on any opponent who gets in his way. The majority of NBA players are thrilled to reach 40 points just once in their career. The event is so casual to James at this point that he’s literally done it to every team he’s ever faced in the NBA. The 2004 New Jersey Nets have now been fully redeemed.
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