There are very few firsts left for LeBron James to accomplish, but on Monday night he had his first game with more than 60 points. James registered 61 points and shot 22-for-33 from the field to join NBA royalty and become one of only 19 men to top 60 points in a game. This performance not only solidified that this season’s MVP race is a two-man race, but it also answered some of the few remaining naysayers who believe James lacks a killer instinct.
For the majority of this season James has had to listen all about how Kevin Durant is the MVP of the league, and that he is doing more with less than LeBron. He was killed during the All-Star weekend over his “Mount Rushmore” talk. He has undoubtedly heard all the talk about how the Miami Heat are crumbling under the pressure to three-peat this season and won’t be able to catch the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference. I guess he was paying attention, and he doesn’t like what he has been hearing. Monday he walked onto the court and held up two metaphorical middle fingers for anyone that was watching, and that includes one of his biggest critics, Michael Jordan, who happens to be owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, the team that surrendered the 61 points to James.
See, James doesn’t just compete with Durant for the MVP award every season; he also competes with the legacy of Jordan. No matter what James does he isn’t Michael — not yet at least. LeBron doesn’t have six rings, he doesn’t have five MVPs, he isn’t a 14-time All-Star, he isn’t an 11-time All-NBA player, or a nine-time All-Defensive player, and until Monday night he had not ever had a 60-point game. But with each passing game he is inching closer to the ghost of Jordan, next of which is securing another MVP trophy.
With his 61-point performance against the Bobcats, LeBron has left no doubt that he is still in the hunt for another MVP this season. Durant has had a great season; he is leading the league in points per game and is also averaging 7.7 rebounds and a career-high 5.6 assists. Durant has led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the best record in the Western Conference despite the loss of Russell Westbrook for the majority of the season.
Durant has been fantastic, but James is no slouch. LeBron has turned up the scoring to 27 points per game while also maintaining 7.0 rebounds per game, 6.4 assists per game and shooting 58 percent from the field. No player in the history of the NBA has averaged those stats for an entire season. There doesn’t seem to be any way LeBron won’t reach another first and be the first player to eclipse all those numbers in the same season. If his season plays out the way it has so far, James will nab his fifth MVP trophy, which would match the career total of Jordan.
LeBron still has to hold off Durant and keep winning titles to keep the critics’ mouths shut. No matter what James does, he is still chasing the ghost of Jordan. The good thing for James is that Jordan is already in the clubhouse. Sure, there is still a lot of ground for LeBron to make up, but with each passing game and season, he inches closer and closer to the spot of Greatest Of All Time.