LeBron James is unlike many NBA stars. Although he is consistently among the league’s leading scorers, he does not rack up 40-, 50-, and 60-point games as often as many superstars. James may have great scoring nights, but it never feels as necessary as it does for other players. Why? Well, James’ value comes from everything, not just scoring.
On one particular night against the Charlotte Bobcats, however, James summoned a scoring rampage like we’ve never seen from the balanced superstar.
LeBron James’ Miami Heat vs. the Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats were a struggling team heading into the home stretch of the 2013-14 season. Making matters worse, they had hungry defending champions to face in Miami. Although the Bobcats ended the season well enough to finish the season with a 43-39 record, the team stood at 27-33 entering this game in 2014.
Kemba Walker was still coming into his own as an NBA player, putting up just under 18 points and six assists per game. Al Jefferson was approaching the end of his dominant play at center, averaging just under 22 points and 11 rebounds. In a twisted tale of bad luck, however, a masked Miami man did not let Charlotte start a late-season turnaround just yet.
James was wearing a clear mask after breaking his nose earlier in the season. He was coming off four MVP awards in five seasons and was certain to be a candidate again. Although the award eventually went to Kevin Durant, James put up 27 points and six rebounds and assists. It had the makings of a routine, even without Dwyane Wade. However, they’d face a historic performance.
LeBron James’ career-high game
James didn’t need to play 48 minutes to score a career-high 61 points. In just 41 minutes, he shot 22 of 33 from the field. Even though James has never been one of the best shooters in the NBA, he was on this night.
James shot 10 three-pointers on this night and made eight of them. He didn’t need to live at the free-throw line to get his 61 points either, shooting nine for 12 from the line.
James also had four assists and seven rebounds, although those who’ve witnessed his defensive journey may be surprised to know he didn’t get many blocks or steals in his offensive output (although Miami was probably fine with that). The Heat won the game 124-107, with the Bobcats not having a chance to run with them.
Jefferson had a game that would be the performance of the night across the NBA schedule, singlehandedly keeping the Bobcats in the game with 38 points and 19 rebounds on 18 for 24 from the field. Nobody else on the Bobcats’ roster gave him much help, however, and Jefferson had to go home knowing his dominant performance wasn’t even the best of the night.
LeBron James’ legacy
Moreso than many players, James’s story may benefit from consistency. He can have a 25-point night and be just as impressive as another player who scored 50. Theoretically, he may have been able to score 70, 80, maybe even 90 in a game if he wanted to, but he’s always been as much a playmaker as he was a scoring threat.
James may one day dethrone his 61 points. His career-defining moments seemed to come at bigger moments, from his block on Andre Iguodala to his 2007 domination over the Pistons in the closing moments of an elimination game. His 61-point game against the Bobcats, however, while not his defining moment, is an amazing chapter in a legendary career.