When the Miami Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers in last Thursday's deciding Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami's LeBron James became the second player in NBA history with 100 playoff victories before the age of 30, per ESPN Stats & Info.
The 29-year-old James joins one of the few players he's sometimes compared to—former Los Angeles Lakers point guard Magic Johnson, who reached 100 before his 29th birthday. Apparently, all that's needed to win 100 playoff games before turning 30 is generational talent and a batch of uber-skilled teammates.
After going first overall in the 1979 NBA draft following a storied career at Michigan Sate, Johnson joined a Lakers squad that already featured eventual Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes.
Somehow, someway, Johnson actually exceeded the massive expectations, winning his first title as a rookie at the age of 20. Magic reached the playoffs in each of his 13 seasons, retiring with five NBA titles.
James took a much different path, jumping straight from high school to the pros in the 2003 NBA draft at the age of 18. He was drafted first overall by a Cleveland Cavaliers team that had gone 17-65 the previous season, with Ricky Davis as the squad's leading scorer.
James helped the Cavs improve to 35-47 in his rookie season, then dragged the team to 42-40 in his sophomore campaign. After missing the playoffs in each of his first two years in the NBA, James has not only reached the playoffs in each of the following nine seasons but has also won at least one series every time, per Pro Hoops History's Twitter account.
Of course, LeBron never quite got over the hump in Cleveland, as he failed to capture a title, despite winning 42 playoff games during a five-year stretch from 2005-06 to 2009-10. All in all, seven seasons in Cleveland netted those 42 playoff wins, with nary a championship to show for it.
Now in his fourth season with the Heat, James has found the playoff victories almost laughably easy to come by since teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He has 58 and counting, as the Heat prepare for a long-awaited NBA Finals rematch with the San Antonio Spurs.
Should Miami take home the Larry O'Brien Trophy, James will have a vaunted three-peat, something that Johnson never accomplished.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless otherwise specified.
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