A triple threat who can score efficiently, pass spectacularly and rebound his position well, it should come as no surprise that LeBron James has recorded 36 triple-doubles in his career—by far the most of any active player since James came into the league in 2003.
However, James has come short of adding more triple-doubles to his resume, accounting for plenty of "almost-triple-doubles" throughout his career.
Two of those have come this December. James put up 25 points, nine rebounds and nine assists when the Miami Heat played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 14 and 30 points, nine rebounds and nine assists on Dec. 16 against the Utah Jazz.
(James also had an almost-almost-triple-double against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 7, posting 21 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.)
Defining an almost-triple-double as when a player scores more than 10 points but falls one short of double digits in one and/or two other categories, James has recorded 32 almost-triple-doubles in his career and a total of 68 almost-triple-doubles and triple-doubles.
James keeps track of these things, too, remarking that he remembers the missed opportunities that could have put him over the triple-double hump.
LeBron replaying his missed triple double. Remembers one rebound that he didn't get, and Ray Allen missing a shot. And he told Ray about it.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) December 17, 2013
Historically speaking, James still has some work to do before he can become the true king of the triple-double and almost-triple-double. Jason Kidd is the all-time leader with 168 total almost-triple-doubles and triple-doubles in his 19-year career. Magic Johnson is second with 112 in 13 years.
If we were to break it down by year, Kidd averaged 8.84 "almost's" and triple-doubles per year. Johnson averaged 8.62 and James averaged 7.3 per year in his first nine seasons plus two in this, his 10th season.
By the way, James is third on the all-time list and his career is, quite obviously, not over. With these past two December "almost's," James broke his tie at 65 with Larry Bird. At his current pace, James would have to play about six more seasons to catch Johnson and just under 14 more to catch Kidd.
Bird's 65 came in a seven-year span from 1986-92 (9.3 per year), and Lever put up his 64 in an unreal four years between 1986-90 (16 per year!). But there is also something to be said about consistency in this category, as evidenced by the top three.
For what it's worth, Michael Jordan had 46 total almost's and triple-doubles in his career.
James has plenty of goals, and I couldn't tell you if and where this ranks on his list. It is clear, however, that James is paying attention.
If that is what James is going to use to keep this regular season interesting, well, this could be fun.
All stats accurate as of Dec. 16, 2013 and are courtesy of basketball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.