LeBron James has spent a lifetime surpassing outsized expectations. And with his 38th birthday coming on the court, why bother being surprised when he turned in a performance no one could have fairly anticipated heading in:
47 points. 10 rebounds. 9 assists. A block. 18-for-27 shooting. 4-for-6 from range. 7-for-8 at the line. A 130-121 victory.
A single assist was all that stood between James and the first birthday triple-double in NBA history. Yet his season-high 47 — only two of which came in the 1st quarter — was good enough to make him the fourth player in league history to drop at least 45 points at age 38 or older, joining Michael Jordan (3 times), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamal Crawford.
LeBron James wasted no time becoming the 4th player in NBA history with a 45-point game at age 38 or older.
He joins Michael Jordan (3x), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Jamal Crawford. pic.twitter.com/n93kJ8U0OE
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 31, 2022
James’ performance on Friday is the second-most points he’s ever had on his birthday, trailing only his 48-point outpour when he turned 25 in 2009.
It also marked his 70th career game of 40-plus points, tying Kareem and Rick Barry for 8th all-time. He now trails Abdul-Jabbar by only 527 points for the all-time lead.
James had his mother Gloria and his wife Savannah sitting courtside for his birthday.
“They’ve been with me since before this 20-year campaign started,” he said. “They’re the rock to everything that I do. To have them there tonight sitting courtside and just being a part of this journey, being here for my birthday, being here for the holidays, it’s pretty cool.”
And the NBA family was watching him too, praising the 38-year-old superstar on social media after the victory:
James fam was LOVING this Bron dunk 😂👑 pic.twitter.com/IttDpLjldf
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 31, 2022
Masterful 47 I just watched, Lebron James. Masterful…GGz
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) December 31, 2022
Sitting here watching the lakers play…. Sometime later this season Bron gone be able to say he’s scored more points than anyone to ever play this game… lol that’s wild
— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) December 31, 2022
Happy 38th birthday @KingJames.
That’s how you celebrate it!! Big time game and big time win!
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) December 31, 2022
Bron is from a different planet..
— 🏁 Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) December 31, 2022
LeBron getting the same 30 point triple doubles at 38 as he did at 18 is some crazy ish. Redefining Father Time 💪🏾
— Kevin Garnett (@KevinGarnett5KG) December 31, 2022
Cant believe Lebron didnt just get 1 more assist for the triple double lol.
Real talk though, these statlines are getting so insane. 50 and 60 point triple doubles 🤯
And Lebron, in year 20, hoopin like this?! Unreal
— Jeremy Lin (@JLin7) December 31, 2022
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.