LeBron is talking about chasing the cream, staying cool at 38

LeBron is talking about chasing the cream, staying cool at 38

LOS ANGELES — With the Lakers heading to Sacramento this weekend and LeBron James needing fewer than 500 points to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time mark of 38,397, James reversed the time he hit his first NBA home run points. Kings.

“I knew I was ready for the moment,” James told ESPN in an exclusive interview on Friday. “I knew I belonged to the greatest league in the world. But I didn’t know what to expect. I was so 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 single jump shot, 16 feet from the basket along the baseline.

“Actually, it’s kind of a hard shot, too,” said James. “But I was so nervous with excitement. Tense with, ‘I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to let people down.'”

James has only been racking up achievements – and points – since then. He’s tearful as he approaches Abdul-Jabbar’s record, as he averaged 33.7 points on 57.8% shooting in his past 12 games, including 25 points on 10-of-19 in Friday night’s 130-114 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Not bad for a guy who’s always 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 say it in a sense, it wasn’t part of my game that defined me…but there’s an argument to that. When you look at how long that record has stood and the great Karim being able to accomplish something like that.

“But it won’t be for me to discuss because I’ve never felt this way before.”

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

Unlike Abdul-Jabbar, whose celestial hook is frozen in time in bronze as a statue outside the Crypto.com Arena, James said choosing one move from his attack combo isn’t an obvious choice.

“It’s not like I have a one-legged dirk [Nowitzki] fadeaway or fadeaway Michael Jordan’s patented cream hook or hook [Hakeem Olajuwon] “Dreamshake,” said James, “I think the one special thing people always talk about is my signature tomahawk dunk in transition.”

James is still playing above the edge as his career progresses, but his team no longer plays near the top of the standings. Los Angeles has missed the playoffs in all 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] “Don’t sit well with me,” said James. “I don’t like hitting milestones, and I don’t feel right, when it comes down to a losing effort. … So, since we’re sitting here now as a franchise and as a sub-. 500 team — we’ve been playing good basketball lately, but we want to and I want to win.” Breaking records, setting records or passing the greats in a losing effort has never been my thing.”

To make his point, James explained how he decided to sit out the last five games of last season to rehabilitate an ankle injury after Los Angeles was already eliminated from postseason competition, rather than come back and play just two more games to play enough of the season to be eligible for a title. scoring. James averaged 30 points per game in his 19th season.

“I’m on the ground, trying to score goals LeBron talks Kareem pursuit, staying great at 38 In games that don’t matter, it just felt really bad for me. So, I was like, I’m not going [to play]”So it never really mattered to me unless it was about winning,” he said.

Even though it’s been 10 years since he won the last of his four starters in the regular season in 2013, James still prides himself on opposing defenses poised to block him as one of the best in the league.

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

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

“I have to be on the floor with my son, I have to be on the floor with Bruni,” James said of his eldest son, currently a high school senior, who will not be eligible to play in the NBA until 2024. -25 seasons under current collective bargaining agreement rules.

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

“Either in the same uniform or a match against him. I don’t mean like [guarding one another all game] “Because he’s a starting point guard and I, at this point, now play a position or whatever the team needs,” James said. “But I would love to do both the Ken Griffey father and son thing. That would be perfect for sure.”

James said he and Bruni don’t actively discuss this future possibility, but he knows it’s something that interests his son, too.

“I ask him what his aspirations are, and he says he wants to play in the NBA,” said James. “So, if he wants to do this, he has to get down to business. 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 strain together.

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

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