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When he plays his final game, LeBron James will be remembered for a plethora of moments, accomplishments, achievements and experiences.
One thing the Cleveland Cavalier superstar is confident for which he won’t be remembered is for coming out on the short end of games against the Utah Jazz played in Salt Lake City, which happened — again — on Saturday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena in a 104-101 loss.
James, who celebrated his 33rd birthday Saturday, has not won a game at Utah since December 2010, his first season with the Miami Heat. His teams are now 3-4 when they play on his birthday.
“I don’t think at the end of my career, people are going to say, ‘uh, you know, LeBron did some great things, but he lost eight in a row vs. the Jazz,'” he said, wearing a big grin as he did so.
“Naw… it is what it is. No one’s going to remember that. I don’t think so.”
James had 29 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block in 37 minutes against the Jazz. However, he shot just 1-of-7 from the 3-point line and committed a game-high six turnovers, two more than any player on either side.
The game was a microcosm of an 0-3 road trip for James and his teammates, who have now lost three games in a row for only the second time this season and four of five. The rough stretch followed an 18-win-in-19-games stretch for the Cavaliers (24-12).
“The trip was trash… we went 0-3,” James, whose squad bowed at Golden State on Christmas Day and Wednesday night at Sacramento previous to the loss to the Jazz, said. “(It) was trash trip.”
Despite the skid, James’ faith in his squad has not been shaken.
“It’s just the season, the ups and downs,” he said. “Hopefully, we can figure it out. I don’t know where it kind of went wrong, but we have to figure it out like we did the first time.”
James is referring to the 5-7 start of which the Cavaliers began the season. With the calendar about to flip to 2018, he said it’s all about the present, and the future, not the past.
“I’m a live-in-the-moment type of guy,” he said. “Listen, it’s been a heck of a year, obviously, for multiple reasons, and not just the game of basketball, but just for me, personally, and for my family.
“And what I’ve been able to accomplish and I continue to accomplish. I’m able to clock in another year (and) is just blessings and very humbling.”
Being a global icon has many a perk, including having opposing fans sing “Happy Birthday,” choruses of which James heard pregame from appreciative Jazz fans.
“That was big-time… that was big-time,” he said. “Much respect to Jazz Nation and everyone here. I heard a lot of cheers when I was introduced, heard a lot of cheers when I ran onto the floor, (and saw) a lot of ‘Happy Birthday’ signs.
“And they got the best of both worlds tonight — they got to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me and their Jazz won the game. That’s icing on the cake for everyone here.”
As for his personal struggles team-wise in Salt Lake City, James reiterated it will not be part of the narrative when the epilogue on his sure-fire Hall of Fame career is written — with one caveat.
“Unless we play them in The Finals,” he said. “And I lost seven straight games.”
Realizing that’s impossible in a best-of-seven series, James, who is now just 22 points from 30,000 in his career, caught himself and a big smile ran across his face.
“It’s not possible,” he said. “It would be four games.
“That’s the only thing somebody would remember.”