- Lakers and NBA reporter for ESPN.
- Covered the Lakers and NBA for ESPNLosAngeles.com from 2009-14, the Cavaliers from 2014-18 for ESPN.com and the NBA for NBA.com from 2005-09.
LeBron James rang in his 36th birthday by extending his scoring streak to quadruple digits Wednesday.
James’ jump hook with 6:15 remaining in the second quarter against the San Antonio Spurs gave him 11 points for the game, marking the 1,000th straight game with 10 points or more for the Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar.
James already passed Michael Jordan for the longest double-digit scoring streak in league history on March 30, 2018. He scored 27 points against the New Orleans Pelicans to move up to No. 1 on the league’s all-time list with 867 consecutive games of at least 10 points.
The last time James scored fewer than 10 points was on Jan. 5, 2007, when he finished with eight points against the Milwaukee Bucks. During the streak, he has usually cleared the 10-point mark without a worry, however, there were three times he finished with exactly 10 points.
Before the game against the Spurs began, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said he was unaware of the approaching milestone.
“I did not know about that stat,” Vogel said on a videoconference with reporters. “But certainly we’ll make sure the ball is in his hands plenty tonight.”
Vogel also put the decision in James’ hands on how he would like to be serenaded on his big day.
“We don’t have any rookies to sing him ‘Happy Birthday,’ so he didn’t get that yet,” Vogel said. “I gave him the option to choose a teammate or teammates to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ for him, and he chose to wait until after the game. So that may or may not happen. We’ll see.”
James, who was 18 years old when he entered the NBA, played on his birthday for the eighth time in his career. Coming into Wednesday, he had the highest scoring average of any player in NBA history playing on his birthday at 32.9 points per game (minimum five games played), according to Elias Sports Bureau research. Dominique Wilkins is second at 32.7 points, and Shaquille O’Neal, who once scored 61 points on his birthday while playing for the Lakers, averaged 29.4.
James came into the night with the most points before age 36 in NBA history with 34,332. Laker greats Kobe Bryant (second with 31,700), Wilt Chamberlain (third with 30,335) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (fourth with 29,779) trail right behind.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who would be James’ coach this summer if he opts in for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, marveled at James’ longevity.
“It’s a tribute to both his intelligence level and his tenacity, his character, his commitment to excellence,” Popovich said on a videoconference with reporters. “You combine those things and you get what we see in LeBron James after all of these years. He looks pretty much like when he first came into the league.
“He deserves a lot of credit for being the consummate professional, using every technique that he can, being on the cutting edge of things. So, his mental state along with his physical state really makes him very special, probably more than anybody who has ever played the game.”
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