On March 27, 2004, the New Jersey Nets allowed 19-year-old LeBron James to score a then-high 41 points in the 69th game of his career, when he was a rookie with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets were obviously disappointed with the three-point loss and the performance that led to it, but they can take some solace now that James, 19 years later, has done that against every single team in the NBA.
On Tuesday, James dropped 46 points on the Los Angeles Clippers, who were the last team on his 40-point bucket list. In the 1,404th game of his career, he has now scored at least 40 against all 30 NBA teams. It was fitting to see the performance come against the Clippers, as James averaged just 24.1 points per game in his career, which was tied for the lowest mark of any team. That honor now belongs solely to the Detroit Pistons thanks to Tuesday’s blowout.
James is well on his way to some scoring milestones — and in addition to hitting 40 against the only team he didn’t play before, he hit a career-high nine three-pointers on Tuesday night.
“I have gone to this place without even thinking about it,” James said after the Lakers’ 133-115 loss. “Just being in the moment, trying to play the game the right way [Tuesday night], as well as I shot the ball, I still wanted to distribute to my guys, to make sure they felt some kind of rhythm. That’s just how I’ve always played the game.”
James is clearly on track to become the league’s leading scorer, a mark likely early next month. The 46 points he scored on Tuesday also put him over 30 points per game for the season. He’s now around 30.2, right next to last season’s 30.3 and within striking distance of his career high of 31.4. It goes without saying that James is the oldest 38-year-old in NBA history, but since his December birthday, he is now averaging a career-best 36.1 points per game.
The first 40-point game of LeBron’s career was so long ago that the team he played against has moved twice since 2004 and he no longer plays in the state he once represented. It’s been almost twenty years now and James can still hang 40 on any opponent that comes his way. Most NBA players are more than happy to score 40 points just once in their career. The event is so casual for James at this point that he has done it for literally every team he has ever faced in the NBA. The 2004 New Jersey Nets are now fully redeemed.