Between the two of them, LeBron James and Michael Jordan hold quite a few NBA postseason records. They’re the top two scorers in NBA playoff history and also have the most 40-point games in the postseason, the most recent being LeBron’s 40-point game in a losing effort to the Miami Heat this past Friday night in Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals.
And it’s that losing part where we’re putting our focus today.
Yet another category in which Michael Jordan and LeBron James lead the way in the postseason is the number of 40-point games in a loss. Jordan currently holds that record but James is creeping up on His Airness.
LeBron James and Michael Jordan are the top two scorers in NBA postseason history
As mentioned, LeBron James and Michael Jordan are the top two scorers in NBA postseason history.
Over the course of his career, Michael Jordan appeared in 179 playoff games, all with the Chicago Bulls, and scored 5,987 points. He passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time postseason scoring leader in Game 7 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers and held the record for 19 years.
With a three-pointer in the third quarter of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, LeBron James, then with the Cleveland Cavaliers and playing his 212th playoff game, reached 5,989 career points in the postseason and has tacked on an additional 1,474 since. James enters Game 6 of the 2020 Finals with 7,463 career points in the NBA postseason.
The two have combined for 66 40+-point postseason games
In addition to being the top two scorers in NBA postseason history, Michael Jordan and LeBron James are also responsible for the most 40-point games in the playoffs.
Michael Jordan sits atop the all-time list with 38 postseason games in which he scored at least 40 points, his last coming in his final game with the Chicago Bulls in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. As Scottie Pippen was dealing with a bad back, Jordan singlehandedly led the Bulls to victory that night by scoring 45 points, the final two coming via that iconic final jumper.
LeBron James sits in second place on the all-time list with 28 games of 40 or more in the postseason. As mentioned, he hit 40 on the number this past Friday night in Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals.
To put into perspective just how impressive this is, just look at the fact that Jerry West is the only other player to reach 20 postseason games of 40 points or more. Elgin Baylor did it 14 times and Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain achieved the feat 13 times each. Shaquille O’Neal (12), Kevin Durant (11), Hakeem Olajuwon (11), and Allen Iverson (10) are the only other players to reach double digits in this category.
Michael Jordan has the most postseason losses when scoring 40 but LeBron James is inching closer to that record
Naturally, the two men that have the most 40-point postseason games also have the most losses in those types of games as well. With the Lakers’ loss to the Heat on Friday, LeBron James now has 10 playoff losses in games in which he scored 40 or more points. Only Michael Jordan has more with 12. It’s certainly not the sexiest record to have but it’s an NBA record nonetheless. It’s obviously not a record that LeBron James wants but it’s certainly one he could match this year if the Finals go seven games.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference