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LeBron James: “If I wanted to, I could lead the league in scoring.”

Dec 23, 2012, 4:30 PM EDT

Miami Heat's James passes against the Detroit Pistons in a preseason NBA basketball game in Miami Reuters

LeBron James has been great this season, but he’s not leading the league in scoring. That title currently belongs to Kobe Bryant; a guy who has more buckets than someone in Seattle with a leaky roof. LeBron is actually 5th in the NBA in scoring right now (behind Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and James Harden), and he’s also averaging his lowest points per game total since his rookie season.

Now, before you go searching for explanations and blame the championship hangover or whatever else, allow LeBron to clear things up for you. He doesn’t want to lead the league in scoring. He can, but he doesn’t want to.

That seems like a weird thing not to want, but let’s let LeBron explain himself:

“If I wanted to, I could lead the league in scoring, but that’s not my job here,” James said.

“My job is to do a lot of everything — rebounding, passing and defending so that takes away from my scoring. I’ve done (the scoring title) before. I’m capable of doing it, but my game sometimes doesn’t allow me to have those big nights.”

“I’m shooting 54 percent from the field right now, so if I shoot 54 percent at 25 shots a game? Pff, that’s like … doing my math … that’s 27 points right there. That’s without shooting free throws and shooting 42 percent from the 3-point line.”

“I could do it if I wanted to,” James reiterated.

Via Heat Index | Tom Haberstroh

Remember when Sasha Vujacic said he could score 20 or 30 points anytime he wanted to? This is just like that, except the exact opposite. The natural inclination may be to scoff at LeBron’s comments, to want to call him on his bluff, but James really could lead the league in scoring if he felt like it.

Remember, he’s done it before. LeBron led the league in scoring in the 2007-08 season, when he scored exactly 30 points a game.

And as LeBron so astutely pointed out, he’s shooting 54 percent from the field and a ridiculous 44 percent from the 3-point line. He could easily stand to chuck up about 7 or 8 more shots a game, still have great percentages, and lead the league in scoring.

You know what? You almost wish LeBron would gun for it, just so he could start an arms race with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant. Who would be more shameless in their attempt to lock down the title at the end of the year? Bryant shot the ball 41 times last night against Golden State, and the part of me that hates good basketball kind of wants to see that every night. It would be everything the ABA was, minus the pastels and the afros.

For now though, we’ll have to take LeBron’s word for it, and hope that he chases another stat achievement entirely. He’s not particularly close right now, but LeBron probably has the best shot to average a triple-double over an entire season. That’s only been done only once in NBA history — way back in 1961 when Oscar Robertson averaged 30 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists a game. Mind you, Robertson also played 44 minutes a night, something Erik Spoelstra wouldn’t dream of doing with his star, but we can still dream. James is currently averaging 25.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists a game, so unless the scorekeepers in Miami start being really friendly with the assists, it’s highly unlikely.

But 82 games is a long time, and the tales of Michael Jordan’s trash talk would lead you to believe that players crave any sort of extra motivation they can get to make things more interesting for themselves over a long season.

Someone just needs to tell LeBron he can’t average a triple-double for a full season, and then maybe he would.

Someone bigger and scarier than I am, preferably.

  1. timb12 - Dec 23, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    We all know Lebron could win it, but his logic is off. His shooting percentage would be lower if he took more shots. I totally agree he could lead the league, he’s a freak, but I’m not fond of his reasoning.

  2. bp888 - Dec 23, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Could you lead the league in championship rings?

    • manchestermiracle - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:29 AM

      He does. He’s on the defending champs. Or were you referring farther back than last year?

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 24, 2012 at 6:56 AM

      yeah, Kobe has that, he got 5!

    • michaeljordanseviltwin - Dec 24, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      That’s not an individual stat… but a pretty funny comment nonetheless

  3. maritime85 - Dec 23, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    lebron- just do it, I know the league doesnt offer u any competition but u should gear ur efforts towards breaking thw old schoolers records

  4. sidneydeane35 - Dec 23, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    The Guy is definitely a Great Player. But a Legend in his own mind. Hey Lebron you’ve got the talent, now try backing it up.
    Have to agree. How many rings you got? Don’t you think you need a few before calling yourself the King.

  5. danielgmz - Dec 23, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    I have to agree with LBJ. He’s a monster. At first I didn’t like his game because he only threw himself to the rim; but now, he’s got a nice mid-range shot, has been deadly on long distance this season, he can post-up, and he’s still unstoppable on his way to the basket.
    I’m not taking anything away from KD, but I don’t buy the argument that he’s the best scoring player in the game when you have people with so many weapons like Melo, LBJ and Kobe at 34.

    • davidly - Dec 24, 2012 at 7:27 AM

      For the record:
      That Durant passed Bryant for the scoring title last year is well known, but less stated is that he clobbered him in the process percentage-wise 52 to 43.

      How appropriate that x-mas’ games feature the best scorers in one game KD and LBJ, and in the other game two guys who’ll be racing to see who can take the most shots.

  6. captainwisdom8888 - Dec 23, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    “The natural inclination may be to scoff at LeBron’s comments, to want to call him on his bluff, but James really could lead the league in scoring if he felt like it.”

    No sh*t. He’s the most talented basketball player on the planet, and possibly ever. No knowledgable, self-respecting fan of the game would doubt LBJ’s strong belief that he could lead the league in scoring. Lebron has more “magic” in his game, and will always be more inclined to get others involved, while Kobe has that ability to shoot without a conscience like Jordan.

  7. cantonbound13 - Dec 23, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Michael did it 6 times, oh yeah, he also earned rings those years also.

  8. rickyspanish - Dec 23, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    cantonbound13

    A Knicks fan complimenting a Bull? Now I have seen it all!

    • cramsinned - Dec 23, 2012 at 6:15 PM

      Haha epic!!

    • cantonbound13 - Dec 23, 2012 at 8:14 PM

      You got to respect the greatest ever. I always compliment players that deserve it & earned it.

  9. lucky5936 - Dec 23, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    Lebron is full of crap. A lot of players have lead the league in scoring while doing all of the things he claims takes away from scoring. No one is asking him to lead the league in scoring, so for him to make excuses and brag so we don’t forget how awesome he is (Sarcasm) is lame as hell. He could have simply said he doesn’t worry as much about stats as he does winning championships and we would have all been fine with that answer. Instead statements like this remind us of how he will never compare to the all time greats. They never had to brag or make excuses. They just let their playing do the talking.

    • jt1138 - Dec 23, 2012 at 6:42 PM

      Really? I don’t see Kevin Durant dishing the dime like LeBron does. And Kobe certainly doesn’t assist like LeBron. Or Melo.

    • blueintown - Dec 24, 2012 at 9:41 AM

      Yeah, the all-time greats never did or said anything that could be considered remotely egotistical. Keep crying over spilled milk, the rest of us who know something about the game will continue to understand, appreciate, and respect one of the elite players to ever take the floor.

  10. vikesdynasty - Dec 23, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    Dude Jordan led the league like in scoring like 10 times

  11. vikesdynasty - Dec 23, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    Good lord, auto type phones. There’s not supposed to be 5 “likes” in my post

  12. snaxdsp - Dec 23, 2012 at 9:41 PM

    Doesn’t think too much of himself does he?

  13. kavika6 - Dec 24, 2012 at 12:25 AM

    Somebody needs to give lebron some humility for Christmas.

    • manchestermiracle - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:27 AM

      To be fair you’d have to schedule a couple of semi-truck loads to include just about every player in the league. James’ ego is no bigger than any other star’s.

  14. manchestermiracle - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:25 AM

    I disagree with D.J.’s sentiment that he’d like to see James get in an “arms race” with Bryant. James plays team ball and wins games. Bryant jacks up 30 or 40 shots a game and the Lakers aren’t even a .500 team. Which philosophy would you buy into?

    • rtfinch - Dec 24, 2012 at 8:27 AM

      Kobe does what he feels is necessary to win. Apparently it works, he’s helped lead the Lakers to 5 rings, and 7 finals appearances.

      • manchestermiracle - Dec 24, 2012 at 10:39 AM

        The two years he won the scoring title (’06 & ’07) the Lakers didn’t win the O’Brien. Doing what is necessary to win also includes realizing when you are jacking up too many shots and not getting your teammates involved enough. Jackson was good at letting Brant know that, D’Antoni has yet to show that ability.

  15. sdlakerfan - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:45 AM

    Lebron is obviously absolutely correct. Why write an article about it and why argue with it. Bryant’s shooting a decent percentage this yr (47.1%) and had to carry a confused injury riddled team which Lebron hasn’t had to do and he’s won 5 championships and is 5th on the all-time scoring list with his philosophy which is tough to argue with. Why piss on Kobe just to compliment Lebron.

  16. yousuxxors - Dec 24, 2012 at 7:06 AM

    Im sure he could hes the best player in the game but his stat line would go down with more shots. Just seems like hes being a baby right now. Look at me i can score to … He could of said this differently.

  17. allen227 - Dec 24, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    I agree bp888. The only reason he got one last year is because Stern and the league had it setup for them. It was evident in at least 5 of their playoff games they got calls that the opposing teams didn’t get. They never should’ve made it out of the Indiana series. In my opinion until Stern gets out of the league the smaller market teams do not have a chance.

    • blueintown - Dec 24, 2012 at 9:37 AM

      Like OKC? Idiot.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 24, 2012 at 11:21 AM

      what?

  18. michaeljordanseviltwin - Dec 24, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    LeBron James isn’t concerned with statistics, I promise you. I’ve purchased League Pass every season and watched nearly every game LeBron has played over the past 4+ seasons. He has recorded about 35 triple-doubles but more often he’s had NEAR triple-doubles. I can’t count how many times LeBron has been within an assist or a rebound of a triple-double. The thing is he doesn’t change his game to chase a statistic like that. As a fan I’ve wanted to see him pass more or rebound more to get those triple-doubles but he won’t; not unless it comes naturally in the flow of the game.

    LeBron always tries to make the right basketball play. That’s why you see him pass to Donyell Marshall or Udonis Haslem for the game winner rather than go for a Kobesque 1-on-3 hero shot.

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