There’s nothing groundbreaking about saying that LeBron James is an incredibly talented player. During his time in the NBA, King James has grown into a force of nature; from a sporting, business, and pop-cultural perspective, it’s hard to beat the Lakers forward. Looking at the stats, however, make him look even more impressive.
For better or worse, sports legacies are written in the playoffs. Based on his postseason numbers, LeBron James may be even more dominant than most fans would think.
LeBron James has become one of the NBA’s biggest stars
Basketball, more so than other professional sports, is driven by star players. In the modern NBA, few stars are bigger and brighter than LeBron James.
James, of course, made a name for himself at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. While he showed plenty of promise on the football field, he ultimately decided to focus on basketball; without knowing what could have happened in an alternate timeline, it’s safe to say that was a wise decision.
After graduation, LeBron decided he was ready to take his game to the next level and entered directly into the 2003 NBA draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers selected the forward with the first-overall pick; in the association, his star only continued to rise.
Although his time in the pros hasn’t been perfect—even King James would probably like to forget The Decision—it’s impossible to argue with his on-court results. LeBron is concluding his 17th season of NBA action; even if this year doesn’t include any silverware, he’s still won three championships, four MVP awards, and countless other honors.
Putting the team on his back in the postseason
While it’s not exactly fair, players’ legacies are often determined in the playoffs. That’s good news for LeBron James, who has a history of stepping up during the postseason.
According to Elias Sports Bureau stats shared by ESPN Stats and Info, Saturday’s game against the Trail Blazers was the 67th time in the forward’s career when he’s led his team in points, rebounds, and assists in a playoff game. While that stat is impressive enough in isolation, it looks even better in context.
Since 1951, no player has accomplished the feat more than LeBron. The closest competition, Tim Duncan and Larry Bird, have only led their team in points, rebounds, and assists during 21 playoff games apiece.
That stat underscores just how special LeBron James really is
As the cliche says, statistics can help create any narrative that you want. LeBron James’ playoff performances, however, do confirm some realities about his career.
First, the fact that King James leads his team in points, assists, and rebounds underlines just how much of an all-around talent he is. While we’ve seen plenty of dominant rebounders or prolific scorers in basketball history, it takes a unique player to be able to do it all.
Similarly, that record also demonstrates LeBron’s incredible longevity. Although he missed some time during 2019, the Lakers forward has been remarkably durable; through 17 years of action, he’s played 1,265 regular-season games. That certainly helps achieve any volume-based records.
While you can also argue that James has had the benefit of being the main man anytime he hits the court—during his time in Cleveland, for example, no one was else was going to touch the ball in a big moment—it’s tough to be too critical of his overall body of work. Whether you’re going by the numbers or the eye test, virtually everyone will agree that LeBron James is pretty good at this whole basketball thing.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference