You didn’t think LeBron James would go quietly into that good SportsCenter highlight reel, did you?
James accomplished this statistical first—the 9,000,000,000th of his career, by our rough estimation—in the first quarter of the Miami Heat’s Eastern Conference Semifinals showdown with the Brooklyn Nets.
Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Jerry West, Karl Malone: Those are the only seven players left ahead of LeBron, per Basketball-Reference.com.
That’s a pretty good 30-and-over YMCA team right there.
It should be noted that LeBron has a slight advantage over his rarified cohorts, owing to the league changing its first-round format from a five- to seven-game series in 2003, the year James was first drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Even so, LeBron’s pace has been certifiably cartoonish: At 29 years old and boasting the apparent biochemical makeup of equal parts human being, Lipizzaner stallion and space asteroid, LeBron has ample time to climb his way to the top.
A crooked-smiled cynic might say, “Yeah, well, MJ took two years off—that’s good for at least another 1,000 points.”
To which I would offer this reasoned response: Shut up. LeBron James is amazing.
Of course, LeBron James understands as well as anybody how eager the public is to put his legacy—playoff or otherwise—under the microscope.
When asked by Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick whether he grasped the gravity of making another run—past the haters and the doubters—at Finals glory, James was unequivocal.
"Yeah," James said. "Yeah, absolutely. And I know that. I've been able to put together some pretty good second seasons in my career, and hopefully I can continue to do that."
If the sample size has anything to say, you can book it.