LeBron James has played everywhere throughout the course of his legendary career. In 19 seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers star has made memories in every NBA arena, as well as several international arenas during his time as an Olympian. But LeBron’s all-time favorite arena is stationed in New York City, serving as the home to a Knicks team he’s rejected time and time again.
LeBron James has left the Knicks hanging in free agency
The King has had a few cracks at being an unrestricted free agent. And every time, the Knicks have been there to sway the future Hall of Famer to join them.
In 2010, New York was in heavy pursuit of the 26-year-old James. LeBron was reportedly interested, but the Knicks botched their meeting with the highly-coveted free agent and wound up removing themselves from the running. Then in 2018, James was once again intrigued by the Knicks. But his wife and kids preferred a move to Los Angeles instead.
While James has managed to win titles with the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Lakers, the Knicks have spent the last decade in futility. Since being spurned by LeBron in 2010, New York has just four playoff appearances, three coming during James’ first three seasons in South Beach. Among those playoff trips, the team has just one series victory to show for it.
LeBron has nothing but love for Madison Square Garden
James, a four-time MVP, has never put on a Knicks uniform. But he has stepped onto the court at Madison Square Garden multiple times. And every time reminds him of why it’s his favorite arena to play in.
“Probably my favorite arena in the world to play as a visitor,” James said after his Lakers finished a game against the Knicks in New York, per Yahoo. “Coming here understanding the history, the Mecca. … Being here in the bright lights, being here in the Garden. It’s my favorite place to come play. Absolutely special.”
From basketball games to concerts, MSG is one of the pinnacles of the entertainment industry. So it’s no surprise James enjoys playing there more than anywhere else. Especially when you consider the success he’s had in the historic venue.
LBJ has had several outstanding performances in MSG
Tuesday’s battle between the Lakers and Knicks would have been LeBron’s 31st game at the Garden. However, the King was suspended one game for elbowing Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart on Sunday. It’s a loss for the Lakers and their fans, especially given how James has played there in previous years.
Across 30 games at MSG, the King has averaged 28.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 7.2 assists on 49.8% shooting. He has managed to score 20 or more in all but four of his Garden games with a record of 21-9.
In 2008-09, his first MVP season, LeBron exploded for 52 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds against the Knicks. That was the second time he scored 50 at MSG, doing so a year earlier with 50 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds. Of the 12 times James has scored 50 or more in a game, the Garden is the only venue he’s done it in more than once.
At 36 years old, LeBron still has a couple of opportunities to play at the Mecca. And if history tells us anything, he’ll be ready to put on a show.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.