Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James had been forced to overcome a myriad of obstacles to get to the NBA Finals for the eighth straight time, and now that he’s in, the Cavs forward had a lot more thrown at him in Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors.
The Akron native put up a scintillating 51-point, eight-rebound, eight-assist performance, becoming the first since Michael Jordan to do it at this stage in 25 years.
James joined an elite group of talented scorers to score 50 or more points in a Finals game, including Elgin Baylor (61), Rick Barry (55), Jordan (55), Jerry West (53), and Bob Pettit (50) — yet he is the only one in the group to have done so in a loss, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports.
This is perhaps one accolade James did not want to be tied to his name, giving an otherworldly effort with an even point spread over the course of the game.
The King had 12 points in the first quarter, 24 by halftime, 36 at the end of the third, and 49 after four quarters — getting his remaining two points at the foul line after being held to 0-for-4 during the overtime period.
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Joining this elite group of scorers is definitely bittersweet, especially now, finding himself down 1-0 in this stage and in a controversial game that could have gone the Cleveland Cavaliers’ way.
James is having one of his best postseasons, perhaps the very best of his career; but his team will need to provide the proper support if he’s to crown himself a champion once again by mid-June.