He really does it all
There’s no question that LeBron James is one of the two best players in the history of the NBA. His status as an all-time great rivaled only by Michael Jordan is obvious, but it’s possible to still find ways to be amazed by him 17 seasons into his career.
Take, for example, this stat.
Accomplishing something only previously done by Larry Bird is impressive enough. Doing it six times? That’s ridiculous.
The last thing I want to do is wade into the tired LeBron vs. Jordan argument, but this stat is a perfect illustration of why I prefer LeBron’s all-around dominance to Jordan’s scoring-focused greatness. The way he’s able to impact the game in so many different ways is what makes him a joy to watch.
The stat almost seemed too good to be true when I first read it. (I believe it’s ESPN baseball writer Sam Miller who says every fun fact tells one small lie.) I thought it had to be a case—like Derek Jeter’s cumulative playoff stats—of LeBron playing more postseason games than guys who came before him. But no, the NBA playoffs have included 16 teams since 1984 (although the first round was a best-of-five until 2003). LeBron really just is that dominant.
So, I decided to do some research of my own and adjust the numbers to include guys who aren’t triple double machines like LeBron, searching for players who have had a single postseason with 500 total points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists. The results just make LeBron’s playoff career more impressive.
There have been only 15 players to record such a postseason: LeBron, Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Stephen Curry, Dwyane Wade, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Tim Duncan, Richard Hamilton, Allen Iverson, Paul Pierce, Isiah Thomas, Russell Westbrook and James Worthy. LeBron has done it eight times (in 14 playoff appearances). Jordan is next on the list with five, and Bird and Kobe are the only others to do it more than twice.
At 35, LeBron is by far the oldest player to have such a postseason. In fact, the five oldest players to do it are, in order, 2020 LeBron, 2018 LeBron, 2017 LeBron, 2016 LeBron and 2010 Kobe, who was 31 at the time. And get this: LeBron is also the youngest player to have such a postseason, doing it as a 22-year-old in 2007, the first time he made the Finals.
Cumulative stats like this are rarely impressive, but the postseason is the opposite. In order for LeBron to have compiled stats like these, he not only had to lead his team to the playoffs but also advance far enough to rack up these stats. There’s truly never been anybody else like him.
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