LeBron James silenced some doubters with his performance to lead Los Angeles Lakers to a Game victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. James finished with 38 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists as the Lakers went up 2-1 in the series.
In addition to the Lakers putting pressure on the Trail Blazers, James also made NBA history in the victory. The playoff win was LeBron’s 158th of his career, moving him ahead of San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan and into sole possession of second place on the all-time playoff wins list.
Duncan being that high on the list should come as no surprise as he won five championships and the San Antonio Spurs and never missed the playoffs during his 19-year career. James and Duncan also have quite the history together, having faced off three times in the NBA Finals while also being teammates on the 2004 Olympic Team.
“I get asked questions a lot and it’s just always surreal for me when my name is associated with any of the greats. Obviously we know how great Tim Duncan was in this league with that franchise,” James said.
“I had my battles with him, also was a teammate with him in the Olympics. Just seeing what he was able to accomplish not only in the regular season but more importantly in the postseason. Basically he lived in the postseason. That was his address.
“For me to be linked with the greats and The Big Fundamental, means a lot not only to myself but my hometown and whoever has been following my career.”
One thing that James and Duncan have in common is consistency. Though not quite as long as Duncan’s playoff streak, James did have an impressive one of his own by reaching the playoffs every year from 2006-18. Additionally, James making eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances between 2011 and 2018 is one of the most impressive feats in NBA history.
When it comes to the head-to-head playoff battles it is Duncan who owns the edge. Duncan’s Spurs defeated James in two of three Finals meetings, including a sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007.
Duncan famously told James at the conclusion of the series he would one day reign over the NBA. “How did I feel at that moment? We had just gotten swept, so I didn’t feel great about it. I actually felt like [expletive],” James recalled. “He gave me a smile by saying that, but at the same time I was just thinking about was there something I could’ve done better in those four games to help us win a game.
“Obviously I knew they were the better team at the end of that series and they showed it. I don’t think that had anything to do with how I handle my opponents. I’ve always been that way throughout my whole life. It’s just my personality, who I’ve always been.
“When you have that type of knowledge and you continue to grow over the years, I feel like it’s very important for me to give back to the next generation if they need it, when they want it. That’s just who I’ve always been from Day 1.”
Should things go as planned for the Lakers, James will find himself atop the all-time playoff wins list during this postseason. James is only three wins behind another Lakers favorite for the top spot, that being Derek Fisher who has 161 career playoff wins.
As expected, the Lakers are a mainstay on the list with Robert Horry and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sitting at fourth and fifth, respectively.
LeBron explains why he believes Lakers are ‘built different’
During the Lakers’ blowout win over the Trail Blazers in Game 2, cameras caught James saying the team was “build different.” Some wondered exactly James meant, and he was willing to offer an explanation.
“I really don’t compare us to anybody else in the league. It’s not what everybody else does, it’s not the time everyone has put in, I just know what type of season we’ve had this year,” he said.
“It’s been three or four seasons in one. It started from training camp to preseason, traveling abroad, to entering the new year, the tragic death of Kobe and those victims on that helicopter, to the stop of the season, to Rondo going down for a big piece of the year, to the restart and not having our brother Avery Bradley here, and so on and so on.”
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