Even after LeBron James led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 116-95 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder with a fine 33-point performance, he couldn’t avoid the question about Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry’s looming legacy-defining moment.
Curry needs nine 3-pointers to break Ray Allen’s all-time record of 2,973 triples. Many wondered whether the 33-year-old guard could have achieved the landmark goal on Wednesday, approaching a game with the Portland Trail Blazers being 16 threes away from the magic mark.
James says the fact such possibility was even discussed speaks to Curry’s greatness alone.
“First of all, the fact that the other night, when they played, we were really tracking to see if he could make 16 threes — it just lets you know how freaking amazing he is,” the four-time NBA champion said.
“If there’s one guy in NBA history that can make 16 threes, it’s Steph Curry. I’m literally sitting there doing the calculations in my head. I’m like, ’16. OK, I know he’s made 12 a few times. Well, if there’s someone that can do it, it’ll be him.’ That just lets you know how incredible he is.
Curry made 13 triples once in his career, during the 116-106 win over Anthony Davis’ New Orleans Pelicans in Nov. 2016. The current record of the most triples made in a single game belongs to Curry’s teammate, Klay Thompson, who struck from deep 14 times in the 149-124 win over the Chicago Bulls in Oct. 2018.
James has been on the receiving end of Curry’s havoc-wreaking shooting numerous times in his career, particularly when he squared off with the Warriors in four straight NBA Finals series between 2015-2018 as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Lakers’ superstar recalled those battles when asked whether there was a shot Golden State’s sharpshooter has made that particularly stood out to him. However, James eventually picked the famous overtime buzzer-beater from about 38 feet away Curry hit against the Thunder in 2016.
The All-Star forward then called the guard a “once-in-a-lifetime basketball player,” paying tribute to his illustrious career.
“Obviously, he’s been phenomenal his whole career,” James said.
“More importantly, just a great dude. I wish I could be there to congratulate him … I’ll be one of the guys in our league that will congratulate him socially … Listen, I know Ray, I know the work that he put into it. And if there’s one guy he has to let pass his record, it being Steph, I know Ray is definitely grateful that it would be such a guy like that.
“Pretty cool accomplishment. You can’t even jinx it, cause it’s gonna happen. It may not happen tomorrow … But it’s gonna happen. We’re all witnesses to what Steph Curry has done in his career and the way that he’s changed the game. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime basketball player.”
James was ‘excited’ to face finally Thunder
The Lakers eventually beat the Thunder after losing two previous games of the season series. James missed both embarrassing defeats, the first one with an ankle injury and the second due to an abdomen sprain.
L.A.’s superstar said his absence in the two painful losses provided him with extra motivation ahead of the Friday clash.
“Well, I was excited to play in this game just for that reason,” James said. “I understood the leads that we built and me watching from the sidelines seeing those leads evaporate.
“Them celebrating on our floor the last time they played and I couldn’t do nothing but sit there and watch. They earned those wins, but I was looking forward to making an impact in this game and trying to control the game how I know I can control the game on both sides of the floor.”
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