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This is LeBron James’ best start to a season ever

Feb 1, 2012, 1:26 PM EDT

LeBron James AP

LeBron James has been a statistical beast this season.

He is averaging 29.2 points per game, 8.3 assists and 7.1 rebounds. He is shooting 55.1 percent, the best of his career, because he’s cut down on his three pointers and long twos and instead is playing more out of the post and closer to the rim.

His current PER of 33.3 this season is better than any other player has ever kept up over the course of a season. Better than Wilt Chamberlain (31.8), better than Michael Jordan (31.7), better than them all.

Over 20 games, this is LeBron’s best start ever. Over at ESPN’s Heat Index Tom Haberstroh broke down the numbers.

James’ 33.4 PER after 20 games is his best, barely eclipsing his 2008-09 start when he put up a 32.1 PER along with 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per game in just 35.1 minutes of nightly action. The 17-3 Cavs were embarrassing teams so badly that season that James sat the bench for over a quarter’s worth of time in the early going. But still, on a per-minute basis, James’ current campaign bests even that one.

What sets the current pace apart from his past starts is his rebounding and shooting efficiency. Sure, he’s averaged 29 points and seven assists before, but never eight rebounds and never with 55 percent shooting.

What LeBron is doing so far this season is stunning.

Right now some of you are saying, so what? Doesn’t matter if he doesn’t win a title. (And even then many will dismiss him or want an asterisk next to it if he does get one this year.) I think there is merit to an amazing regular season, but frankly LeBron would agree with you — he doesn’t care if he doesn’t get a title this year.

There are times we let our passions blind us to how beautiful and amazing a player or team can be. We shouldn’t do that with LeBron this season — he has been amazing and we should enjoy it. There will never be many players of his caliber in this league, and we need to appreciate what we have while we have it.

  1. mytthor - Feb 1, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    Most can’t enjoy it, because people root for the underdog and LeBron is the opposite. All these people who act like LeBron leaving Cleveland was a personal slight to them and their family are blind to the fact that we’re watching a man who has the potential to be the greatest player ever. He may not get there. But it doesn’t make it any less fun to me to watch him play.

    I don’t particularly like LeBron the person (though I hesitate to say that, because I don’t know the man), but if you like basketball how can you not be entertained by LeBron the player?

    • mannyfresh209 - Feb 1, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      What’s not to like about LeBron the person? Lol you guys crack me up…

      • hvybench - Feb 1, 2012 at 5:42 PM

        LeBron the person? You must be joking!

    • jollyjoker2 - Feb 1, 2012 at 7:07 PM

      Potential to be greatest ever? Your funny. Obviously, someone who hasn’t see Jordon, MJ, kobe or even the diesel play…..2015 when he has at least 3-4 rings can you start that babble. RIght now, he is mildly entertaining. He still can’t close a game out without a lot of help.

      • mytthor - Feb 1, 2012 at 11:05 PM

        So you don’t know what the name potential means? Good to know.

      • sham13ert - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:26 PM

        Sounds like a name from Freakanomics.

        What if Lebron’s had named him Potential James instead of “The Bron” James.

  2. seannymo - Feb 1, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    the fact that the main espn site (not just a regional espn site) has a page dedicated to strictly the miami heat makes me laugh…they sure do love them some bron bron peen

    • blueintown - Feb 1, 2012 at 1:47 PM

      And I bet that page generates tons of traffic, kind of like stories about LeBron on this sight. See?

      • blueintown - Feb 1, 2012 at 2:17 PM

        *Site. Idiot.

    • mannyfresh209 - Feb 1, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      They would have a regional site for the state of Florida…if the Heat weren’t the ONLY TEAM DOING ANYTHING WORTHWHILE IN FLORIDA.

      Get off the hater bandwagon, stop being a hipster.

      • sham13ert - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:19 PM

        What’s a hipster?

    • kast2l - Feb 1, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      im sure they would have did the same if jordan played in this day and age too…the internet is alot more accessible than jordans era

  3. pl4tinum514 - Feb 1, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    I used to be able to enjoy him, until he turned into a d-bag

    • mannyfresh209 - Feb 1, 2012 at 2:25 PM

      How exactly is he a “d-bag” now? Making things up, I see?

      • jimeejohnson - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:35 PM

        Haters need scapegoats. It’s just that simple.

    • borderline1988 - Feb 1, 2012 at 11:45 PM

      I’m a huge fan of Lebron as a player…I’d take him any day of the week over Kobe Bryant….
      but come on, Lebron is a douchebag off the court. He has a posse of like 50 people wherever he goes, and everything he owns has the title ‘King James’ plastered on it. All NBA stars need a healthy ego, but Lebron’s more spoiled and into himself than anyone else.

      • ishudbgm - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:24 PM

        Are you serious….you either have 5 friends or your aunt is your best friend. The man had over $100m before he was 21, that’s an age where you like to have your friends with you all the time. Once again…..he has more money than any of us could dream of having, he has the power to call Jay-Z and be in every single one of his videos, he could sleep with Sofia Vergara tonight if he wanted…….yet he doesn’t exercise that power. We have never seen him get arrested, rape a girl in Colorado, smoke cigars like Joe the Camel, or sleep with 300 women in a year like Magic did yet some of you people think he is a jerk. FUUUNNYYYY!!!!!!!!! I will keep enjoying the the incredible HULK of BBALL!!!!!!!

      • khuxford - Feb 5, 2012 at 5:40 PM

        We didn’t see Magic sleep with 300 women a year, either. We only heard about it because he got AIDS. THE DECISION was a d-bag move and that he is supposedly now unhappy with his DECISION makes it all the more d-bag of him.

  4. ftball53 - Feb 1, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    I don’t care if Lebron wins five titles he will always be the guy who had to abandon his hometown to get a title. If he had one title in cleveland he would have been king there forever

    • mannyfresh209 - Feb 1, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      For a guy being judged SOLELY on how many titles he wins in his career, he had no choice but to leave Cleveland. Don’t be so ignorant, you fool.

      The only argument people use when debating Kobe vs LeBron, is the fact that Kobe has more rings than LeBron does. THAT’S IT. That alone should be telling enough, that LeBron is better than Kobe. But no, since he’s ringless he’s judged as less of a basketball player because of it. Therefore, who has the right to blame him for putting HIMSELF (the only person who really cares about him in the NBA) in a situation to grab some rings?

      • ljl2 - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:01 PM

        No choice but to leave Cleveland? The team who had the best record for two years in a row and lost their last series due to him, yet his only choice was to leave!? Whether you agree or disagree with him leaving Cleveland, you can’t say that leaving that team gave him a better chance. Lateral move at best.

      • blueintown - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:08 PM

        Lateral move? Is that a joke?

      • jollyjoker2 - Feb 1, 2012 at 7:09 PM

        Now we have a people trying to make him the greatest without any NBA rings! Wow. Where is Dr. J …I am sorry, even he has one!

    • redbullenergydrink - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      Cleveland or south beach… I don’t think the decision was that hard at all.

  5. tampajoey - Feb 1, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Yet he still can’t get in done in the 4th quarter.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:23 PM

      Until he does. Then whatcha got.

  6. leearmon - Feb 1, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    I find it borderline comical how so many people can dislike Lebron. If you’re a Cavs fan, I understand your distain 100%. But everyone else get over it. People have said time and time again, anyone of use would have made the same “decision” as Lebron. He isn’t the first “Marquee” player to leave the team that drafted him to a bigger market and better team. Remember Shaq to the Lakers? And he’s never been in any off the court problems. Does he have his shortcomings on the floor? Of course, who doesn’t / didn’t. But there is no doubt that today, he is head and shoulders the best player in the game. People say that he can’t finish in the 4th. Are you kidding me? I would go on a long diatribe about these “Clutch numbers” but if you truly look at the data you’ll realize how much of a joke that is. Ask Derrick Rose how Lebron does in the “clutch” you know on defense. Offense is only 1/2 of the game, so even when Lebron isn’t making shots (which he will need to do come the playoffs) he’s still very much “clutch” on the defensive side of the basketball. Its incredible really, at this point in the season Lebron should be the favorite for both MVP and neck and neck with Dwight Howard for Defensive player of the year, while still very much alive for the scoring title. Thats the NBA triple crown right there, and if he wins a Finals MVP too, can we please, PLEASE stop all the hate? BTW he’s doing all of this with Dwyane Wade aka “Batman” in and out of the lineup, with less than stellar numbers.

    • b7p19 - Feb 1, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      There is nothing “borderline” about it.

      • jollyjoker2 - Feb 1, 2012 at 7:15 PM

        ! …..People don’t like lebron because he wanted to do it the easy way to get his glory instead of the draft building a team around him. Players have a right to do that, just like as an owner whose team is decimated because their marqee player left to join his special friends to make the CBA a living hell and do his best to call him a free loading scum bag. Its all relative.

  7. bearsstillsuck - Feb 1, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    When I saw the title, I knew Kurt wrote this. But James will certainly not go down as the best ever. He’d be lucky to be known as better than Kobe.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:07 PM

      Nobody south of Boca Raton cares at all about where LeBron ranks on an all-time list. That subject is nothing to us. All we care about is the Miami Heat being awesome to watch every single night and ultimately winning the championship.

      All-time lists are for talk radio gasbags. We care about banners. Lists are subjective and meaningless. Flags Fly Forever (thanks Billy Beane).

    • trueballs - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:38 PM

      You may be right…But I think it’s because Kobe reminds so many people of Jordan, the GOAT….and since Kobe is the most comparable to MJ he must be the 2nd greatest, right? maybe to the casual fan.

      Kobe has incredible drive, but it’s focused towards himself. Kobe makes some of the toughest shots imaginable, but it doesn’t mean they’re good shots. Jordan, without question, was a much better decision maker, defender, and teammate. MJ was the GOAT because he played the game the right way.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:53 PM

        By the time you got to “reminds so many people of Jordan”, Dade, Broward, and the southern half of Palm Beach counties all fell asleep.

  8. berbes - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    it’s not about hate, it’s about sheep blindly supporting a basically bad person. can’t wait for the spring choke.

    kurt loves to stir people up, as his scope is rather limited. flame on, kids!

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:22 PM

      Basically Bad? Were you cheering for the Mavericks in the Finals? Did it bother you that Jason Kidd, at 6’4 220lbs puched his wife in the face with his fist? Is he a “basically bad person”? Kobe? You think he’s a sweetheart? The girl in Colorado might think otherwise. You think Michael Jordan is a joy? Larry Bird? Next time you see Larry Bird, go up to him and say hi. Se how that goes.

      On and on and on. Lebron has never done anything remotely illegal, and however selfish ( I would argue that he’s actually a pretty generous guy, but nontheless) you might think he is, he’s no more selfish than anybody else.

      Were you drunk Santa at the Dallas/Miami X-Mas game?

      • trueballs - Feb 1, 2012 at 5:10 PM

        how else do you punch someone in the face? (sorry, I had to.)

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 1, 2012 at 5:16 PM

        Well played trueballs.

  9. njn50 - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    How many rings do you think Kobe would have right now if he had played the first 7 years of his career in Cleveland and how many would James have if he had been in LA? It is sad that we have to define the best players by how many rings they have because so much of that is beyond their control. Cleveland tried and failed to put a team around James in order to win a championship. Should we really demonize him for seeking it elsewhere?

  10. lameasish - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    Wow berbes, you are so intelligent. Does all the hate keep you warm at night? Get a life kid

  11. klownboy - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    He better had get off to his best start because I have him leading the Heat to a title.
    http://theklowntimes.net/2011/12/17/2011-2012-nba-preview/

  12. rodge1 - Feb 1, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    “waaaaaaaaa, LeBron didn’t sign with my team and went to sunny Miami. waaaaaaa!”…. Keep crying you haters. Why does nobody give Dallas credit for having a deeper team than Miami last year? I’ll tell you why, it’s easier to hate than give credit.
    I guess hating keeps you people warm in your crappy-weather towns.

  13. ferhatiggy - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    He preffered to be bad boy.He wants that.Nothin’ to do.We will never love you King.Sorry.

  14. jimeejohnson - Feb 1, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    Nobody ever had more raw talent and potential than Lebron James. He needs to win the championship to be considered elite. Anyone who is not entertained by Lebron’s above the rim game is no real fan of basketball. I will be very glad we have the King on Team USA come the Olympics. Haters will despise LeBron no matter what he does, but who really cares about what haters think? They tend to be ignorant losers whose opinions are based on fear and jealousy.

  15. slowclyde86 - Feb 1, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    I find the general sentiment that anyone who criticizes LeBron “is a hater” to be pretty silly.

    The criticism of his Cleveland departure, and an assessment of him as a public persona, has more to do with the manner in which he left (and how he has behaved subsequent to the move—i.e. the seven rings ceremony, the “pathetic lives” comments during the finals, etc) than the fact that he did leave. It was classless to high degree in a number of ways and that is something he has never owned. One can feel that way by evaluating his behavior, and not based on “fear and jealousy” as JJohnson indicates (sounds like a comment from a child).

    He is the greatest player on the planet today, but those comparing his legacy at present to Bryant and Jordan are simply wrong. His ability is there, but he has shriveled from the spotlight in two successive season-ending series. He may get there (and I hope he does—he is fun to watch play), but he may not.

  16. goforthanddie - Feb 1, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    leb must be in incredible shape, to be able to slam a ball with all these people constantly swinging from his sac. Then again, maybe all that extra weight is the cause of his 4th quarter issues. Because it certainly can’t be that he’s soft between the ears.

    • trueballs - Feb 1, 2012 at 11:17 PM

      every time you talk about LBJ you always refer to his “sac”. And I remember it’s you because you always spell it that way. It’s starting to get pretty weird.

  17. hvybench - Feb 1, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    There’s no question with regards to his talent but there is absolutely a question on the message he sends to the public and his young adoring fans. He’s not exactly a role model for young athletes. How many parents would like their child to grow up to have his outlook on life?

    • ishudbgm - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:47 PM

      Please tell me your joking…..my nephew adores him!!!! Because of kobe my nephew knows about rape, divorce settlements, and ratting out teammates. Cause of Jordan he knows about those big brown things in Jordans mouth (Cigars), and taunting people for 30 years (Leroy Smith). Magic at least taught him about STDs. But LBJ has taught him the importance of making the right decision for yourself despite what people may tell you that YOU need to do or what THEY want you do, the importance of being independent. Maybe you should talk to a child before you make assumptions about what kids see in him.

  18. tombradyallday - Feb 1, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    all that matters is what he does in june. all the season stats dont matter anymore

  19. tampajoey - Feb 1, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    More Heat fans here than actually go to the Heat games. Guess bandwagon Heat fans just write comments and wear Heat gear but don’t actually go to games. I love seeing those empty seats at AAA (that’s American Airlines Arena to you Heat fans).

    • balledoutdotcom - Feb 1, 2012 at 7:26 PM

      TOTALLY agree. I live in Miami Beach but born and raised in Philly. Terrible fans here. I also enjoy seeing the arena empty when they are putting out the best product in the league.

      Check out BalledOut.com social gaming Fantasy Sports for REAL Fans!

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 1, 2012 at 11:03 PM

      A guy from Tampa commenting on empty seats? You should know

  20. tampajoey - Feb 1, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    I saw your boy “The Choken One” Lebron disappeared in the 4th quarter again tonight in Minnesota. Stat stuffer with no leadership or heart.

    Looks like buying championships isn’t coming easy in Miami. Maybe it will work for the Marlins, but probably not them either.

    Maybe you should jump over to the Yankees bandwagon.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 2, 2012 at 7:49 PM

      What does it say that you spent your evening watching a Heat/ Bucks game. Say what you want about LBJ and the Heat (and last night did suck), but they’ve given you your life. I mean, if you didn’t have LBJ and the Heat to cheer against, what would you do with your life?

  21. gmsingh - Feb 2, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    LeBron is a good player, but he’s no Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. Nor is he as good as Kareem, Magic Johnson, Larry Legend, Pete Maravich, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain…
    Just because we get to watch him on live TV doesn’t make him as good as any legends of the game. He’ll never look like anything more than a punk to me.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 2, 2012 at 11:23 PM

      yawn

  22. detroitcityryda - Feb 2, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    The only ones defending him are heat fans if he went somewhere else you would be saying the same .he will never be the best when he’s scared to take the last shot in crunch time n he went to join d- wade to help him win a title did Mj join Larry bird ?

  23. blueintown - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    I “defend” him, and I’m a Bulls fan. But I’m not pro-LeBron as much as I am anti-stupid. MJ never had the opportunity to join Larry Bird, not that he needed to. He played next to a hall of famer (later two) and was coached by the best. If he thought he had a better chance to win somewhere else would he have bolted? Damn right he would have.

    • gmsingh - Feb 4, 2012 at 5:38 PM

      LOL–you’ve just explained why MJ went to play for the Wizards.

  24. khuxford - Feb 5, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    There are so many people here that really need to revisit the inside of an English classroom before they should be allowed near a keyboard on an internet-connected computer.

  25. cantonbound13 - Feb 7, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    LeBron has always been good in the regular season. But the true stars shine in the post season. Maybe that’s why he decided to ride Wade’s coat tails.

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