Lakers News: LeBron James Calls Reaching 40,000 Career Points ‘Bittersweet’ After Loss To Nuggets
LeBron James, Lakers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers may have lost to the Denver Nuggets again on Saturday, but the focus of the night was LeBron James.

James went into the night against the Nuggets only needing nine points to become the first player in NBA history to reach 40,000 career points. It didn’t take long for James to hit that mark because he scored on his signature spinning layup in the second quarter, much to the delight of the Crypto.com Arena crowd.

Head coach Darvin Ham took a timeout and the fans in attendance rightfully gave James a standing ovation, to which he responded with a heartfelt wave. However, the rest of the night wasn’t as pleasant as the Lakers lost to the Nuggets in the closing moments yet again.

Despite the loss, James was still proud of what he was able to do and spoke what it meant for him to accomplish the feat and get love from the gans.

“Obviously, I’m never thinking about a milestone when I’m out there battling. But when it happens, obviously we acknowledge it,” James said. “Obviously, much respect and much loyalty to the Laker fan base for showing me that love during the timeout. Being the first player to do something, it’s pretty cool in this league, cause you just know the history, you know the greats that’s come through the league. And then you see some of the greats that was on the floor tonight. It was just great to compete vs. that.

“But for me, the main thing is always the main thing, and that’s to win. I just hate that it had to happen in a defeat, especially vs. a team that plays extremely well. And we played some good basketball tonight but wasn’t able to close it out. So, bittersweet. But I enjoyed every moment tonight though out on the floor.”

As James alluded to, he would have preferred this milestone to come in a win and he admitted to feeling both angry and frustrated after another loss to Denver.

“Obviously, a little bit of both. But I’ve calmed down, obviously, since the game ended. Had an opportunity to just relax in my locker, and shower, recalibrate, whatever the case may be. Just want to be better. Want to figure out how I, how we, can be better vs. this team. They have our number,” James admitted.

“We haven’t beat them in quite a while, and its always kind of the fourth quarter — either the last six minutes or the last few minutes of the game. They make plays, we don’t make plays. That can be frustrating in it’s own right.”

It’s still an amazing accomplishment that’s never been done before though, and LeBron said it has not hit him yet.

“No. It has not. Don’t know when it will or if it will ever,” James said. “Because I just always just play the game. Approach the game every day, come to work and prepare right mentally, physically, spiritually every night when it’s time for me to play. I just try to go out and contribute. To be able to do it for 20-plus years, if I’m on the floor and I feel pretty good, I feel like I can make plays. I can make plays to help us win, I feel like I’m still a threat out on the floor and I’m still able to do the things that I was doing 10 years ago and some of the things I was doing 20 years ago, which is weird to say.

“A lot of things that are not shown behind closed doors and when the cameras are not rolling, which is very rare for me, cameras are always kind of following me, but I’ve always just been keeping the main thing the main thing and that’s just protecting my body, protecting my mind and then going out and just pouring it all out on the floor for my teammates, for myself and just see what happens with the results.”

For someone that’s made as much history as James, it sounds like it never gets old to him when he reaches new heights. Although the King might consider himself more of a playmaker, there’s no denying his ability to score and impact games with timely shotmaking.

Los Angeles has struggled to find any consistency during the 2023-24 season, though James has been able to drag them to wins regardless. Losing against Denver stings because it feels like they have the team’s number, but they at least showed what they’re capable of when their key role players step up.

With James playing at such a high level, he’ll continue to etch his name in the record books though he’s certainly hoping to win more games in the process.

LeBron James explains how he maintains work ethic in Year 21

For as talented as James is as a player, it’s his work ethic that really sets him apart from other NBA legends. Greatness doesn’t come easy for anyone, but James has been dedicated to his craft and he’s seeing the fruits of his labor.

Most athletes wouldn’t have the motivation to work this hard so late into their careers, but James explained that his desire to be the best is what continues to fuel him.

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