NBA

Lakers’ LeBron James talks pursuit of scoring record, staying awesome at 38

Lakers’ LeBron James talks pursuit of scoring record, staying awesome at 38

LOS ANGELES — With the lakers to Sacramento this weekend and lebron james Needing less than 500 points to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time mark of 38,397 points, James reflected on the moment he scored his first NBA points at the kings.

“I knew I was ready for the moment,” James told ESPN in an exclusive interview Friday. “I knew I belonged in the biggest league in the world. But I didn’t know what to expect. And I was super nervous. I didn’t know how my first bucket was going to come.”

Three minutes and four seconds into his first NBA game on October 29, 2003, James hit his first NBA shot: a pull-up shot, 16 feet from the basket along the bottom line.

“It’s actually kind of hard, too,” James said. “But I was so, so nervous with excitement. Nervous with, I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to let people down.”

Since then, James has only accumulated hits and points. He’s on a tear as he approaches Abdul-Jabbar’s record, averaging 33.7 points on 57.8 percent shooting over his last 12 games, including 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting in the win Friday night by 130-114 over the Atlanta Hawks.

Not bad for a guy who has long argued he’s not a scorer.

“I mean, I know how to put the ball in the hole,” James said. “When I say I’m not a scorer, I mean it in a sense of, it’s never been the part of my game that defines me… But there’s an argument. When you look at how long that puck is. he got up and the great Kareem, being able to pull off something like that.

“But I won’t argue because I’ve never felt this way.”

Abdul-Jabbar has held the torch as the league’s leading scorer since April 5, 1984, nearly nine months to the day before James, who turned 38 last month, was born.

Unlike Abdul-Jabbar, whose signature skyhook is frozen in time in bronze like a statue outside Crypto.com Arena, James said picking a move from his offensive repertoire isn’t such an obvious choice.

“It’s not like I have a signed one-legged Dirk [Nowitzki] fadeaway or a patented Michael Jordan fadeaway or a skyhook Kareem or a [Hakeem Olajuwon] Dream Shake,” James said. “I think the one thing people always talk about is my signature tomahawk dunk in transition.”

James continues to play above the rim as his career progresses, but his team no longer plays near the top of the standings. LA has missed the playoffs in two of James’ four seasons with the Lakers and has an 18-21 record, 12th in the Western Conference.

“I want to win. [The losing is] “I don’t like being good to myself,” James said. “I don’t like to have hits, and I don’t feel good when it’s a losing effort. … So at this point we’re sitting here as a franchise and as a team that’s under .500 — we’ve been playing good basketball lately, but we want and I want to win at the highest level. Breaking records or setting records or going big in a losing effort has never been in my DNA.”

To illustrate his point, James explained how he decided to sit out the final five games of last season to rehabilitate an ankle injury after LA was already eliminated from postseason contention, instead of coming back and playing two more games just to have played enough of the season. season to be able to win the top scorer title. James averaged 30 points per game in his 19th season.

“I’m on the floor, trying to get the score Lakers’ LeBron James talks pursuit of scoring record, staying great at 38 in games that don’t matter, I found it very cheesy. So I said I won’t even go there [to play]” he said. “So that never mattered to me unless it was about winning.”

Even though it’s been 10 years since he won the last of his four regular-season MVPs in 2013, James still takes pride in opposing defenses preparing to stop him as one of the best players in the league.

“To be able to come out and still be a focal point of my opponent’s scouting reports lets me know that I’m still playing at a high level,” he said. “I want to continue to play at a championship level and continue to be respected every time I hit the floor as a threat for the minutes I’m playing.”

James has two more years left on his contract with the Lakers. While he has repeatedly expressed his hope that the Lakers can find a way to put a more competitive team around him for the twilight of his career, there is another goal he prioritizes above all else.

“I need to be on the floor with my kid, I need to be on the floor with Bronny,” James said of his oldest son, currently a high school senior, who would not be eligible to play in the NBA until 2024. – 25 season according to the regulations of the current collective agreement.

James has expressed that desire before, saying how he hoped to be teammates with his son in the league. However, on Friday he adjusted that stance slightly.

“Either in the same uniform or a matchup against him. I don’t want to say how [guarding one another all game] — because he’s a point guard and I’m a point guard, right now I’m playing center or whatever the team needs me to be,” James said. “But I’d love to do the whole Ken Griffey Sr. thing. and Jr. thing That would be ideal, for sure.”

James said he and Bronny don’t actively discuss that future possibility, but he knows it’s something his son is interested in as well.

“I ask him what his aspirations are and he says he wants to play in the NBA,” James said. “So, if he wants to do it, he needs to get to work. I’m already here, so I’m just waiting for him.”

And then there will be another first NBA bucket for the James family to get nervous together.

James, referring to his career point total, said with a laugh, “He’s got a long way to go to me.”



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