CLEVELAND — Still chasing championships, LeBron James caught — and passed — Michael Jordan on one list.
James broke Jordan’s NBA record by scoring at least 10 points in his 867th straight regular-season game, a streak the Cavaliers superstar could make nearly untouchable by the end of his brilliant career.
James entered Friday’s game against New Orleans sharing the mark with Jordan, one of his boyhood heroes. But with one of his patented two-handed dunks midway through the first quarter, James moved ahead of Jordan, whose streak stretched from 1986 to 2001.
During a stoppage in play, James was handed the ball and he received a standing ovation from the sellout Quicken Loans Arena crowd, which included pop superstar Justin Timberlake, who is in Cleveland to perform at the Q Saturday night.
James last failed to score in double digits on Jan. 5, 2007, against Milwaukee. In the time since, he has won three NBA championships, left Cleveland for Miami and returned, and established himself as one of the best players in league history.
At 33, he’s playing as well as ever and next month he’ll head into the playoffs attempting to reach his eighth straight NBA Finals.
James never set out to break Jordan’s mark, but by staying healthy and being consistent, he moved himself to the top of another statistical list.
And with the end of his career seemingly years away, James is poised to re-write history some more.
“It’s not like I set out to say that I want to be the No. 1 in scoring 10 points, double digits or consecutive games or whatever that and whatnot,” James said. “But any time like a statistical category comes up and I’m able to accomplish something like that, I mean it’s pretty incredible. It’s been like 11 years that I’ve been able to accomplish this feat so I’ve been able to take care of my body, that’s one, and I’ve been around some great teammates and coaches and two organizations that have allowed me to be who I am, so that’s two.
“And just going out and playing for the joy of the game.”
To put James’ double-digit scoring mark in perspective, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s career scoring leader, scored at least 10 in 787 consecutive games. Among current players, Houston’s James Harden has done it in 257 games — 410 behind James.
James can envision a day when his record is toppled.
“I think records are always meant to be broken,” he said. “At the end of the day I think a lot of people didn’t believe Mike’s record would ever be broken, so who am I to say that mine won’t be?”
James’ record underscores his durability, reliability and scoring skill. And although it may not be viewed in the class as other notable streaks like Joe DiMaggio getting a hit in 56 straight games or Cal Ripken playing in 2,632 straight, the mark is still special.
An avid sports fan, James said all of those streaks are meaningful.
“They’re all great achievements in their own right,” he said. “You all know Cal Ripken and his ability to be out on the diamond every single day, play that many consecutive games. Joe DiMaggio, every time he went up in a game he was going to get a hit. That’s just production for a ball club. This streak as well, being available to your teammates and being able to put the ball in the hole, I don’t know if there’s one that’s more than another.
“They’re all pretty cool achievements in their own right.”