Behind the Scenes of LeBron Being Crowned the NBA’s Scoring King

For a brief moment, LeBron James, fading but balanced, hung in the air next to history. That second after the ball left his fingertips and hit the net was enough to turn the past into the present, for the two points that made him the all-time leading scorer to remind you that there were 38,386 points scored. before.

All of these moments ran through my mind at the same time, like animations being shuffled from beginning to end, those in which the artist adds subtle variations that reveal progress over time. That’s how LeBron evolved, keeping his identity, changing to keep up with the demands of the league.

Making history on Tuesday, albeit in a 3-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, James sat on the podium contemplating his NBA debut 19 and a half years ago at what was then the ARCO Arena as an 18-year-old. . old member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He joked that the cameramen definitely broke the rules by recording him while he was stretching, that even though they filmed him so close, they didn’t capture his nervousness. “I didn’t want to let my people down in my hometown,” he says. “I knew the expectations that were placed on me that were out of this world. I knew so many people were waiting for me to fail.”

He focused on the belief that he had clung to his entire career: that he had been taught to play the game correctly. “In my 20 years in the NBA, one thing I learned,” James says, hesitating and then laughing, “there are a lot of people who don’t teach the game properly, and I knew I came from a group of guys and coaches who taught us the right way.” play, and no matter how many times I hear “why doesn’t he hit?” or “why did he move to an open teammate?” or “why did he do this or that?” I never hesitated because I knew Certainly it was the right way to play the game.”

Currently the stars Not pass out double teams blown up for selfishness. The way James reads the room has become a role model, as have other things he’s been criticized for: Superstars change teams, exercise their power, and build their brands. Some even see the team change as another testament to his superiority – the fact that he has won championships with three different teams is proof that his greatness shines through in all scenarios. James reimagined how basketball is played on the court and how stars act off the court.

Secret: He is stubborn in his beliefs, but does not turn a blind eye to his flaws. He always loved the game enough to learn from it. The free throw line disappears for example, what got him ahead of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the third quarter was not in his bag when he entered the NBA. James’ first loss in a final in 2007 came against a Spurs team who figured it out and camped under the basket as he rushed unsuccessfully to the rim. Rep after rep, he slowly practiced that punch, getting revenge on San Antonio in the 2013 NBA Finals. It has since become a staple, one of many subtle evolutions that has allowed it to maintain this high level long enough to even dream of breaking a record that seemed unbeatable when it was set 39 years ago.

“I know a lot of people wanted me to sky hook to break a record, or one of my signature dunks,” James said after the game, “but my departure is also a signature game.”

One of the most memorable things about durable image from The Last Shot, Michael Jordan’s famous game winner in the 1998 finals, are the faces of the opposing crowd, cowering in horror before the shot even reached its apex. Against the backdrop of a similar shot by James is a crowd full of people who are capturing the experience through the lens of a camera, trying to capture a moment that hundreds of professional photographers will somehow immortalize. I did it too. So did James’s sons, Bronnie and Bryce. The home game in February doesn’t have to be a replica of the winner of the final game, but the faces reflected the seriousness of who Jordan was, who we were, just like here.

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Since LeBron arrives in an all black suit on Tuesday waiting and eyeballs were riveted to him. Events like this are why people gather to watch sports, and court seats were selling for $100,000. This is a chance to witness history, to say that you were there. Denzel Washington, Jay-Z, Bad Bunny, Floyd Mayweather and James’ best friend Dwyane Wade were at the court. So did Clippers coach Tyrone Liu, who helped James bring Cleveland to the championship in 2016.

Tables were booked in the restaurant; Nike commercial filmed. Drake even taped a congratulatory (and clumsy) message. LeBron’s mom has arrived. Just like Big Frankie, aka Frank Walker, the coach who took him in when his mom was barely making ends meet, introduced him to basketball and taught him how to play left-handed to play correctly. go about your business every day. These household chores eventually became the famous rest and recovery regimen he has been doing with Mike Mansias, his trainer since he was a rookie, that has kept him so stamina for so long. Of course, Maverick Carter, Rich Paul, Randy Mims – the backbone of the business empire that Phil Jackson once derisively called his squad – were there. James’s wife and children too. All that remained for James to do was break the record.

The gold pin on LeBron’s lapel read: “Stay in the present.” After the game, he laughed and admitted that he was trying to break the record against the Thunder.

“My boys are leaving tomorrow night for a red eye. I was in such a mood, I dressed for the occasion and put on a headband, because that’s where it all started.” If the message seems contradictory, at first it was.

When the game started, James looked like he was forcing things. He overdid the pass in transition and flipped the ball on a late pass. Thunder, having divined James’s intentions, doubled and overloaded its half of the floor. You’ve begun to wonder if the basketball gods will punish LeBron’s considered decisions in a game that thrives on flow.

But James settled in, throwing a few passes from under the post to open the shooters and reminding the Thunder what the NBA defense has known for over a decade: Usually the best option is to let him score. The floor opened up, James found his range, started the transition and, when he reached 36, triumphantly jumped to the other side of the court with his hands up.

10 seconds before the end of the quarter, the game was stopped. It was a fitting stop because little of what happened last night really had anything to do with the game anyway. Cameramen poured onto the court like it was the NBA Finals. James started waving his arms around like he was organizing a game, tells his family and friends to join him on the court. Next to his family, James looked overflowing with happiness. Adam Silver seemed to materialize out of thin air. Abdul-Jabbar stood beside him, preparing to hand over the ceremonial ball to James. That didn’t happen when he broke the record in 1984, and it wasn’t just a consequence of James’ orchestration. It was an NBA production.

In an age where no worthwhile achievement comes without documentation, performance and spectacle are inextricably linked. But that doesn’t mean the tears streaming down his face weren’t real.

James thanked the Lakers fans, asking them to give the captain – nicknamed Abdul-Jabbar, with whom he reportedly has an uneasy relationship – a standing ovation. He then thanked everyone he should have thanked, and he meant it. Finally, he slipped, struck by the moment. “Fuck, dude,” he says, a placeholder for something you can’t find the language for. “Thank you guys.”

“Seeing my family and friends,” James later said, “people who have been by my side since I started this journey, before the NBA, so I definitely had a moment right there, very emotional — I was just a kid from a small town in Ohio.”

But the NBA world is still turning upside down. As I type this, Skip Bayless is most likely outlining his carnage against James’ use of profanity, and it’s unlikely to be the only nit he can choose from. Lost in it all: The Thunder and Lakers are head to head in the standings, both out of bounds. Tuesday was a historic night for the Lakers, but it also ended in a loss. The outcome of this game could have real consequences in April.

With just under three minutes left in the game, Russell Westbrook mishandled a pass to Anthony Davis and turned it over. Everyone began shaking their heads again in the long-established disappointment, remembering how much of a mess the Lakers had this season. Fans, having already seen what they came to see, began to head towards the exits.

There are times when James’ stubbornness gets the better of him. Two seasons ago, he was campaigning for a Westbrook trade to Los Angeles while the rest of the NBA was mulling over it. Several times this season, he’s tried to turn Westbrook into Kyrie Irving, another annoying point guard talent that LeBron looks set to handle. After the Mavericks traded for Irving, LeBron opened up about being disappointed that the team didn’t trade him for him, while saying the Lakers just need to get…


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