Audio Dispatch: On LeBron
The NBA's new all-time scoring king, so durable before he got to Hollywood, is facing injury woe yet again. It could clinch a second straight season out of the playoffs for LeBron James and his Lakers
It’s easy to forget that LeBron James has been a Los Angeles Laker longer than he’s played anywhere else apart from his first stint as a Cleveland Cavalier that lasted seven seasons.
An unforgettable staple, by contrast, of LeBron’s nearly five seasons in Lakerland: Doubts about Anthony Davis’ durability and the steady corresponding drumbeat of skepticism about James’ ability to contend for more than one championship as a Laker because of Davis’ propensity to get hurt.
As they say, though, life comes at you fast. Only one week removed from his All-Star Weekend declaration about how vital the final 23 games of the regular season would be, James just sustained a significant foot injury. When he took his seat on the Lakers’ bench Tuesday night in Memphis, he did so wearing a boot covering much of his lower right leg.
It means that he suddenly needs Davis — more than any other teammate — to keep the Lakers’ season alive long enough to give LeBron some semblance of sufficient time to recover and make a meaningful comeback.
So much is going on here now, with both the Lakers’ present and future, that we needed extra runway to get into it all. That prompted me to channel my inner Grant Wahl and pay tribute to the Substacker supreme once again with another Wahl-style Audio Dispatch designed to cover the LeBron latest from numerous angles.
Click here to give it a listen:
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I was surprised to learn Sunday, before the Clippers played Denver in what became a discouraging road defeat in overtime, that the Clippers' pregame show on Bally Sports SoCal ran my recent TV essay on the shifting state of the Western Conference after a wild trade deadline.
That was actually one of two TV essays that my trusty Dallas-based producer Tanner Rottman and I assembled this month. We also put one together after the aforementioned LeBron James became the all-time leading scorer in NBA regular-season history.
Both pieces are a click away here if you want to check them out.
NBA players! Those in search of some good karma for your offense should take note: Portland's Damian Lillard is averaging 71.0 points per game in games played immediately after an appearance on the #thisleague UNCUT podcast co-hosted by Turner Sports' Chris Haynes and me. Follow Dame's one-game blueprint and join us on the show to see if we have any magic dust left.
Starting with 50 points on Jan. 12 in a home loss to Cleveland, Lillard has been on a 20-game heater that also includes six 40-point games and his 71-point eruption Sunday night against hapless Houston.
Only three players have scored more points in an NBA game than Lillard: Wilt Chamberlain (five times), Kobe Bryant (81 in 2006) and David Thompson (73 in 1978).
Lillard's 71-point masterpiece means that there have been 22 games already this season — compared to 19 all of last season — in which one NBA player scored at least 50 points.
There had been 148 40-point games in the NBA this season entering Tuesday’s play, according to research from my Substacking pal Justin Kubatko. That figure breaks the league single-season record of 142 such games, per Kubatko, that was established in 1961-62.
Kubatko says 50 different players have recorded a 40-point game this season, which is also an NBA record.
The Clippers (26) and the Kings (18) combined to sink 44 3-pointers Friday night in their historic double-overtime classic that Sacramento narrowly seized by a 176-175 scoreline. In the only NBA game that has generated more points, back in December 1983, Detroit and Denver combined to take just four 3s — sinking two — in the Pistons' 186-184 victory in triple overtime.
The Kings were playing on the second night of a back-to-back on the Clippers' floor after beating Portland at home in Sacramento's first game back after the All-Star break.
Milwaukee's Jrue Holiday has played in eight of the 12 games Giannis Antetokounmpo has missed this season. Holiday is averaging 25.0 points and 9.4 assists in those games while shooting 54.2% from the field and 42.3% from 3-point range.
After a stunning home loss Sunday to the Dominican Republic, Argentina — runner-up to Spain at the last FIBA World Cup in China in 2019 — failed to qualify for the 2023 FIBA World Cup in Indonesia, Japan and The Philippines this summer. The enclosed tweet lets you know how rare that is.
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First off, I'm glad you are back to writing again because I don't have time to listen to podcasts.
Second, when are people going to realize that Lebron does not tilt the floor anymore. He scores a bunch of empty points and is a defensive sieve. People that think that Lebron is still a difference maker do not watch basketball.
LeBron has been a non-factor in the Championship hunt for 4-of-5 Laker seasons. The Bubble Title was fun, but this has been a glorified retirement tour.