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LeBron’s journey to passing Jordan’s double-digit scoring record

The historic moment came in the middle of the first quarter of the game versus the New Orleans Pelicans. LeBron James didn’t just grab Michael Jordan’s double-digits scoring record, he took it down with authority. James drove left against the Pelicans’ Solomon Hill and with no one protecting the paint, rose up for the two-handed slam to notch his 11th point of the game.

His final stat line: 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 11 assists and 107-102 win.

With that bucket in the second quarter, James passed Michael Jordan with 867 consecutive games scoring 10 points or more. The double-digit streak achievement came just two days after the Cavaliers leader tied the record against, coincidentally, the Charlotte Hornets, the team that Jordan owns. He scored 41 points in that game.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, “James has scored 10 or more points in 99.3 percent of his career games, the highest percentage in NBA history.”

The last time James failed to score at least 10 points in a regular season game was on January 5, 2007, when he scored just eight points on 3-of-13 shooting. Despite the poor showing, the Cavs won over the Milwaukee Bucks 95-86. In comparison, Jordan’s streak lasted from March 25, 1986 until December 26, 2001.

After the record-breaking game against the Pelicans, James was humbled by his own accomplishment.

“I think for me anytime I’m in the same breath as the greats of this game, it is very humbling knowing where I come from,” the future Hall-of-Famer said. “I grew up 30 minutes south from here where the statistics were not for us—for me. So for me to continue to be an inspiration to the youth and do what I do on the floor, it means a lot for me in that sense.”

Regular Season Record

The scoring record that James broke is for the regular season alone. He failed to score in double-figures in the playoffs during the 2014 Eastern Conference finals. James scored just seven points in the Game 5 loss to the Indiana Pacers. He was limited to just 24 and a half minutes because of foul trouble.

Coach’s Comparison

Interim Cavaliers coach Larry Drew also coached Jordan with the Washington Wizards as an assistant. When asked to compare Jordan and James, Drew simply complimented both players.

“Certainly Michael was as good of a finesse player as there was,” he said. “You just never seen anything like LeBron with his size, his speed, his power. He’s something different. But the one thing that both guys do have in common, they both are driven. They’re really driven to win and to be the best.”

Michael Jordan, Shawn Kemp

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Journey

In this section, we take a nostalgic look back at the highs and lows of James’ double-figures scoring streak and how he has finally reached this point.

January 6, 2007

After scoring only 8 points in the previous game, James started his double-figures scoring streak the very next day when he scored 19 points versus the New Jersey Nets in a 96-91 win. That game featured starters Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and his future teammate, Richard Jefferson.

February 7, 2007

Just a month after not scoring in double-figures, James nearly did it again as he shot 4-of-13 from the field and only took two free throws, both of which he made. He scored 11 points in 36 minutes but the Cavs’ defense smothered the L.A. Clippers en route to a 94-77 victory.

“Guys took advantage of what we had,” he said. “I didn’t struggle at all. I didn’t force anything. I took what was there. Defensively, we took care of business.”

LeBron James

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

January 15, 2008

James scored a season-high 51 points on 18-of-28 shooting from the field, 6-of-12 on three-pointers but only 9-of-16 from the charity stripe. The Cavs took down the Memphis Grizzlies 132-124 in overtime. The Cavs superstar scored 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to give them the victory.

It was the fourth time in James’ career that he scored at least 50 points but only the second time that the Cavs won a ballgame with him scoring that many.

December 5, 2008

It was a 97-73 rout of the Indiana Pacers but James nearly jeopardized the scoring streak with an 11-point outing. Nonetheless, he almost had a triple-double with 8 rebounds and 11 assists in 38 minutes of action.

He struggled with 4-of-12 shooting from the field but the team took up the slack and covered for him.

February 20, 2009

Early in his career, James was more of a scorer than he is today. He scored 55 points on 16-of-29 shooting in a 111-103 win against the Bucks. This was his second time to score more than 50 points against Milwaukee as if to make up for his poor showing in January of 2007. He also added 9 assists and 5 rebounds.

James had 52 points three weeks earlier over the New York Knicks and 51 points less than a month later versus the Sacramento Kings.

“Just got in the zone, man,” James said after the Bucks game. “I saw a few go down, so I just kept going at it, man. Every shot that I made tonight, every shot that we all made tonight, we needed.”

In one stretch in the third quarter, during the first 2:50, James dropped four three-pointers including back-to-back threes as the Bucks could only stand in awe of the shooting exhibition they were witnessing. He made 8-of-11 threes overall and 15-of-22 free throws as well.

December 2, 2009

James had 12 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists, narrowly missing a triple-double and nearly breaking the 10+ scoring streak by shooting 6-of-15 from the field with no three-pointers and no free-throw attempts at all.

Even so, the Cavs dismantled the Phoenix Suns 107-90.

January 27, 2010

The Akron, Ohio native scored only 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting from the field. If it weren’t for his 5-of-6 free-throw shooting, he would have missed double-figures in scoring for the first time in three years. He added 6 rebounds and 11 assists.

Still, the Cavs won the game over the Minnesota Timberwolves 109-95. James didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter with the game already in the bag.

February 6, 2010

The 14-time All-Star nearly had a 40-point triple-double when he notched 47 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists with 5 steals in a breathtaking performance. The Cavs took down the New York Knicks 113-106.

LeBron James

Getty Images

James shot 17-of-31 from the field, 6-of-12 threes, and 7-of-7 free throws. He scored 24 straight points in a span of 5 minutes and 29 seconds in the first half, a feat that even baffled the player himself.

At one point, James’ nailed a three from the “A” in the Cavaliers’ half-court logo.

“It’s something that can’t be explained,” James said. “It’s a feeling I wish I could be in every game, but it’s not possible. It was a great moment.”

February 3, 2011

The first 50-point game for James in a Heat uniform came against the Orlando Magic whom they beat 104-100. Once again, the King had a near triple-double with 51 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists.

“Just playing this team got me going,” said James. “We understand that it wasn’t just any regular-season game. There were a lot of things said about us in the offseason that came from this organization. So we just wanted to come in here and play to our abilities and make a statement.”

The offseason saw James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh join forces in an attempt to form a super team to win multiple championships together. That didn’t go too well with some organizations including the Magic.

James scored 23 of his 51 points in the first quarter.

February 6, 2011

Just a few days after his 50-point explosion, James was limited to 12 points on 6-of-15 shooting but the Heat still won decisively with a 97-89 rout of the Clippers.

He missed both of his three-point attempts and both his free-throws in this game. Not that it mattered in the final tally but he nearly sabotaged his streak by shooting poorly in this game.

LeBron James

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

April 3, 2012

James had a season-high 41 points on 15-of-25 shooting and 10-of-13 from the line to power the Heat to a 99-93 win versus the Philadelphia 76ers. He also added 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in the game.

He scored 14 straight points for Miami in the fourth quarter to help the Heat clinch a playoff spot with the victory.

The Heat superstar arrived at work earlier than usual to warm up three hours before the game as his good buddy Wade was out. He more than made up for his fellow All-Star’s absence.

February 26, 2013

James recorded a season-high 40 points with 8 rebounds and 16 assists. He shot 14-of-23 field goals and an efficient 11-of-12 from the line. This was his previous career high in assists as the Heat won versus the Sacramento Kings 141-129 in double overtime.

“Some great stat lines tonight,” James said. “But I’m happy I was able to do what I did and help our team win.”

March 3, 2014

James’ career-high was recorded when he was playing for the Miami Heat. He scored his only 60-point game versus the Charlotte Bobcats when he had 61 points on 22-of-33 field goals including 8-of-10 from three-point range and 9-of-12 from the line. He also added 7 rebounds and 4 assists.

LeBron James

Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

The Heat won their eighth straight game with a 124-107 win.

Interestingly, among all of his 50+ point games, this is still the only one that James has played on his homecourt whether during his time with the Miami Heat or with the Cavs. Aside from being a personal career high, the 61 points was also a franchise record for the Heat, breaking premier shooter Glen Rice’s 56 point total on April 15, 1995, against Orlando.

“The man above has given me some unbelievable abilities to play the game of basketball,” James said. “I just try to take advantage of it every night. I got the trust of my teammates and my coaching staff to go in there and let it go.”

November 4, 2014

Nearly losing the double-figures streak in this game, James was held to only 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting as they were routed by the Portland Trail Blazers 101-82.

“We have to understand what it takes to win,” James said as he had just returned to Cleveland after four years in Miami. “It’s going to be a long process. There’s been a lot of losing basketball around here for a few years.”

February 26, 2015

It was a masterful game for the 4-time MVP as he scored a season-high 42 points to go along with 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block. His shot selection was superb (15-of-25 field goals, 4-of-9 3-point field goals) and his free-throw shooting was pretty good as well (8-of-11).

LeBron James vs. Andre Iguodala

Getty Images

The Cavaliers won versus the Golden State Warriors 110-99 in a preview of the NBA Finals that June.

“That’s not why I’m here,” he said when asked if the performance put him in the driver’s seat as the MVP frontrunner. “I’ve got to be the MVP for these guys, the 14 guys in the locker room. When I’m on the floor, I’ll try to do everything I can to help this team win.”

December 26, 2015

This was one of his three 12-point games this season as the Blazers took advantage of a struggling James who shot 4-of-13 overall, defeating the Cavaliers 105-76.

“Offensively, we are in a funk right now,” he said. “Our energy was lacking at the beginning of the game. It picked up, but at some point it got so out of hand that it didn’t matter.”

December 10, 2016

What is it with James and missing out on a triple-double? He scored 44 points and added 9 rebounds and 10 assists on his way to leading the Cavs to a 116-105 victory versus the Charlotte Hornets.

He made 17-of-24 shots including 5-of-10 from deep. The only thing you can fault James for in this game was his free throw shooting where he was only 5-of-9 from the line.

“A lot of our guys had heavy legs tonight and it was up to me to get through it,” he said.

In this game, the King recorded his 7,000th assist as he became the first frontcourt player in league annals to reach the mark.

November 3, 2017

This game was about James taking over for the team to avoid losing more than four consecutive games. For those wondering whether James could still carry a team in his 15th season, he answered everyone emphatically.

LeBron James 57 points

Getty Images

The King tied a franchise record with Kyrie Irving by scoring 57 points on 23-of-34 shooting. He also added 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in a do-it-all performance that was as good as it gets. Amazingly, he only made 2-of-4 three-pointers but he was perfect from the line making, all nine attempts.

The 57 points is also the second highest point total in James’ career. Of course, the Cavs won the game versus the Washington Wizards 130-122.

“Every shot that I took,” the 14-time All-Star said, “I felt like it was going in.”

January 8, 2018

The streak very nearly ended nearly three months ago when James uncharacteristically scored only 10 points while taking only eight shots as the Minnesota Timberwolves annihilated the Cavs 127-99.

The 15-year veteran was understandably upset especially after being told of his career-worst minus-39 performance.

“I’ve won a game and had a bad plus-minus before, so what does that matter?” James said. “I don’t give a damn about no damn plus/minus.”

March 28, 2018

James tied Jordan for consecutive games scoring in double figures (866) by pouring in 41 points on 14-26 shooting from the field, 4-of-8 from beyond the arc and 9-of-11 from the line. He nearly had a triple-double with 10 rebounds and 8 assists.

LeBron James

Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James goes up to dunk against the Charlotte Hornets during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, March 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

More importantly, the Cavs defeated the Hornets 118-105 for their 6th win in 7 games.

When asked after the game how he was able to keep the streak intact, James talked about his journey.

“I’ve stayed available, obviously,” he said. “I haven’t played every game, but for the most part, I’ve played over 70 percent of my games throughout that journey, and just going out and just trying to be productive.

“I can’t even tell you how I’ve been able to do it. It’s not like I go into every game saying, ‘OK, I’ve got to get 10 points.’ It’s just kind of organic. It happens, and anytime I’m mentioned with some of the greats, and arguably the greatest basketball player of all time in Mike, it’s just another feat for me to be appreciative and humbled by what I’ve been able to do. And just knowing where I come from and knowing, I look at it and say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m in this position,’ knowing where I come from.”

What everyone wants to know now is where James is headed with the double-figures scoring record.