LEBRON JAMES IS Renowned for his uncanny ability to remember specific moments from any point throughout his professional basketball career, be it minutes or even years before.
But when asked earlier this week about the milestone he reached Thursday (16 years and 1,125 regular-season games without scoring fewer than 10 points), James was stumped.
“Really?” he told ESPN. “I do not remember”.
It turns out that James is not alone.
The game that no one seems to remember? It was on January 5, 2007, a 95-86 Cleveland Cavaliers road win over the Milwaukee Bucks during James’ fourth NBA season.
His line: nine assists, five rebounds, 3-of-13 shooting from the field in 43 minutes.
And eight points.
“When I went to look at the boxscore, I thought, ‘Well, maybe I had a good game,'” he told ESPN. Donyell Marshall, now an assistant for the Greensboro Swarm of the G League and a forward on that team for the Cavaliers from 2006-07. “Then I looked at the scorecard and said, ‘Well, I didn’t do anything either.'”
“If you had asked me, ‘Do you remember scoring over 30 and LeBron leaving in single digits?’ He would have expected to have some sort of recollection of that,” he said, laughing. Drew Goodena former Cavaliers forward who now works as a broadcast analyst for the Washington Wizards.
However, there was one person who has a vivid recollection of what happened that night: then-Bucks coach Terry Stotts.
“I’ll be honest, I clearly remember that game, and not because LeBron didn’t score 10,” Stotts said by phone Wednesday morning.
The last play of that Cleveland victory, a dunk from Michael Redd with 14.8 seconds left, it would prove to be the beginning of the end of Stotts’ tenure in Milwaukee.
“Michael dunked in the final seconds of the game,” Stotts told ESPN. “A meaningless dunk. We were down nine.
“But he goes up to dunk the ball, something happened to his knee and he missed the next 20 games… We were 3-17.”
And, just over two months later, after Milwaukee entered that Cavaliers game with a .500 mark and wins in seven of its previous nine games, Stotts was fired. He would later go on to have a successful nine-year career coaching the Portland Trail Blazers.
But while the game turned out to have significant consequences for the Bucks, for Cleveland it was just another night on the road to a wildly successful season that ended with an NBA Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
So while James’ former teammates couldn’t remember much about a random January game 16 years ago, the memories of playing alongside him remain powerful.
“I am in awe of how much he continues to develop and grow and figure things out, all with the weight of the world on his shoulders,” Gooden said.
“He’s a real-life superhero, who’s always available.”
FOR MARSHALL, WHO Spending parts of three seasons alongside James as part of a career that saw him play for eight different teams, his lasting memory of James was as someone who was dedicated to both improving himself and learning the history of the game from an early age.
“I played with a lot of superstars, but never one that studied the game from the age I was at the time,” Marshall said. “As soon as the game was over, I wanted to (see) the recording.
“To me, a lot of guys today aren’t necessarily students of the game. A lot of guys didn’t know the players who played before them, who paved the way for them. However, he is a guy who knows the style of Oscar Robertson. Know the statistics of Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar). Know the statistics of wilt chamberlain”.
Gooden, meanwhile, said what stood out to him the most was the way that James, every moment of his life under the basketball microscope, from his high school days at St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, Ohio has always stood up to the moments that come her way.
“Just him always figuring it out,” Gooden said. “Just being able to produce under pressure. I’ve known him since he was 15, so it’s a different perspective from knowing him for 26 years…
“He had this Nike campaign, about how we witnessed his greatness. Well, we have all been witnesses. It’s just that. It is that, and more.”
To put James’ streak in perspective: Marshall played in 957 games in 15 NBA seasons. Meanwhile, Gooden played 790 in 14 years in the league. That’s a lot longer and a lot more games than the average career of an NBA player.
“Actually, it’s more surprising that he’s scored less than 10 points than it is to say he hasn’t in 16 years,” Marshall said. “Early in your career, your rookie year, you’re going to have a few games where you might not score more than 10. But the greatness that he’s shown and all that he’s done, I’d say I’m more surprised that he’s had a I play less than 10 points, so the streak surprises me”.
Former Cavaliers point guard daniel gibson, on the other hand, was a rookie that season. When asked about playing alongside James, Gibson was immediately reminded of his practice leading up to the 2006 draft, when he was selected by Cleveland with the 42nd. overall selection.
“At first I thought, ‘That’s just another one of those records that’s sort of made up,’ but then I realized it’s not. It’s a real record.”
LeBron James on his streak of 1,125 regular season games with at least 10 points
“I had a terrible workout in Houston, and then the Cavs was my second workout,” Gibson, who is now an assistant coach at the G League’s Cleveland Charge, told ESPN. “(LeBron) was there and I did amazing.
“After training, he came up to me and gave me all the confidence in the world. Being that he is Lebron Jamesyou’re (just) waiting for a roster shot, the last thing you expect is for him to tell you that he’d love it if I was still available to be on his roster.
“He gave me a lot of confidence and that’s what I learned about him from the day I came to the Cavs, man. He was, to me, the best player in the world, and yet he was the first person in the gym, the last person to leave.”
For his part, James said he doesn’t pay much attention to the regular-season game streak, saying it was just something he noticed whenever it appeared on his social media schedule or was mentioned in the media.
And, he said, when he looks at the scores at halftime, his point total isn’t something he focuses on.
“I see it,” James said, “but what I watch the most are our team’s turnovers, the other team’s turnover points, our opponents’ fast-break points, my personal turnovers.
“That’s more or less. I don’t look at the point totals too much.”
THE CLOSEST THAN JAMES was about to break the streak was on March 20, 2021, when he fell to the court in agony and frustration after spraining his ankle after landing on Atlanta Hawks forward Solomon Hill.
It seemed briefly that he could not continue playing. But he managed to stay long enough to hit a 3-pointer to get it to 10 points before calling a timeout and leaving the game.
It would turn out to be the last game James would play for over a month, though he said he was unaware at the time of the ramifications of the 3-pointer he made.
“Not until after the game,” James said.
Another noteworthy moment during the streak came during the 2017-18 regular season finale against the New York Knicks, where James, whose goal was to play all 82 games, immediately dropped out of contention after scoring exactly 10 points in 11 minutes. .
While James’ double-digit point streak has become more important with time, particularly after he surpassed Michael Jordan’s previous record of 866 consecutive regular-season games on March 30, 2018, in a win for the Cavaliers over the New Orleans Pelicans, it was never something he thought of trying to achieve.
“I was like, ‘Oh, that’s great,’” James said, referring to getting past Jordan. “At first I thought, ‘That’s just another one of those records that’s sort of made up,’ but then I realized it’s not. It’s like a real record. But I do not know. I just go out and play.
“It’s the same with the all-time scoring record when I get it. Not even (I pointed at him)… It’s pretty good. I mean, I can’t sit here and say, ‘Oh, well, it doesn’t mean anything. Because it is significant. But I didn’t set out to do it.”
Whether James intended to make it or not, 16 years later he is still doing it, edging ever closer to breaking Abdul-Jabbar’s seemingly insurmountable mark as the league’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points.
However, it gives Gooden a chance to show his 10-year-old son, Drew Gooden IV, that his dad does know a thing or two about playing for one of the greats.
“I’ll show my son this boxscore,” Gooden said with a smile, adding that his son asks about James “all the time.”
“He says to me, ‘Did you talk to LeBron? Do you know it’s his birthday?’” Gooden continued. “He’s a huge LeBron fan, and now he’s getting to the age where he knows it’s the truth, because there’s data to back it up.
“There are some historic nights that I was with him. But I never thought there would be a historic night where he scored single digits and I had 31.”
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LeBron and the legend of the eight points: “I will show my son that box score”