An employee at the arena named Anita, who would not give her last name but said she had been working there for 10 years, was nervous that the record might be broken on the Pelicans’ home floor. “We can’t let him do it here,” she said. “It ain’t about the King tonight.”
No one, really, should have thought that James, at this point in his career, would score 63 points on Saturday. (His career high is 61 points, in a game against Charlotte in 2014.) But James has provided many miracles in his career. That he is competing at such a high level at 38 seems to be just one more — a feat that is altering perceptions of athletic limits and athletic primes.
James fell short of the scoring record on Saturday, finishing with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists, and the Lakers (25-29) lost to the Pelicans (27-27), 131-126. James is now 36 points away from passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who scored 38,387 points from 1969 to 1989, and tickets for the Lakers’ home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night have soared in anticipation that James will break the record then.
On Saturday, James made plays that explained why many supporters will always believe that another miracle is on its way. He played 40 minutes, more than any of his teammates. It was the third time in his last four games that he played at least 40 minutes, a figure, he said, that was “catching up to him.”
“I’m tired as hell,” he said after the game. “But I’ll be ready to go on Tuesday.”
“I think it’s historic on a lot of different levels,” Lakers Coach Darvin Ham said earlier this season. “For him to be at this point of his career and still able to produce at the level in which he’s producing, I just think all of us, just really being able to witness it, be a part of it — it shows his competitive spirit, his no-quit mentality.”