LeBron James can’t go more than a week or two without making NBA history, and he made plenty of it in Tuesday’s 106-103 victory over the Phoenix Suns. The win itself was historically significant as it sent the Los Angeles Lakers to Las Vegas for the first ever In-Season Tournament semifinals. They will face the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, but his individual numbers to get there were the real story of the night.
In leading the Lakers to that win, James put up 31 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and five steals. That stat line made history in several ways. Here is a brief sampling:
James is the first Laker to put up 20 points, 10 assists and five steals in a game since Kobe Bryant did so in 2004.
James is the first Laker to put up 30 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and five steals in a game since Magic Johnson did so in 1987.
James is now the oldest player in NBA history to record a 30-point, 10-assist, five-steal game, and the 17th-oldest player overall to record any sort of five-steal game.
James has been making and breaking records for over two decades now, but part of the fun of the In-Season Tournament is that it is so new that he has a chance to set initial records that other players will one day break. Through five games, he ranks ninth in the tournament in total points (131), fourth in assists (41), fifth in steals (nine) and 16th in rebounds (40). Should the Lakers advance to the championship game, it is conceivable that he could wind up leading or coming in close in several of those areas.
Whether he does or doesn’t, James just had one of the most memorable individual performance of the In-Season Tournament so far. When we look back on the tournament’s inception years from now, this will certainly be one of the games that gets remembered.