LeBron James admits, he’s “chasing a ghost” when it comes to Michael Jordan.
And tonight, barring something catastrophic, the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar will pull even with the Chicago Bulls legend in one category.
If James scores 10 points for the Cavaliers (44-30) tonight against the Charlotte Hornets (34-41), he will equal Jordan’s NBA record by reaching double figures in 866 consecutive regular-season games.
Ironically, Jordan will be on hand tonight in Charlotte. He is the owner of the Hornets.
After a lethargic 98-79 loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, James sounded steadfast regarding his desire to play in all 82 games of he regular season. Now in his 15th NBA season, the 33-year-old James has never accomplished that.
“We’ve got another one tomorrow in less than 24 hours,” James said. “We play at 7 o’clock tomorrow. We’re already kind of behind the 8-ball so we’ve got to start getting our minds set from Charlotte. We’re going to learn from these mistakes, probably watch some film tomorrow on it, but we’ve got to get ready for Charlotte.”
If James scores 10 or more points tonight in Charlotte, he will have an opportunity to reset the NBA record Friday night against the New Orleans Pelicans at Quicken Loans Arena.
The last time James did not reach double figures in points was on Jan. 5, 2007, when he scored eight points, shooting 3-of-13, though the Cavaliers did defeat the Bulls that night, 95-86.
The first game of his current streak came the next night against the then-New Jersey Nets, when he scored 19 points in a 96-91 victory.
How long ago was that? For perspective, Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson all started for the Nets that night.
Jordan’s streak ran from March 25, 1986 trough Dec. 21, 2001, and it could have been much longer, especially if he had not retired n 1994 or 1999.
The six-time NBA champion played 930 regular-season games and he scored 10 or more points in 929 of them. He then went on to reach double figures in his first 26 games as a Washington Wizard.
How’s this for irony?
The lone game as a Bull that MJ didn’t score 10 or more points came against none other than the Cavaliers.
On March 22, 1986, Jordan’s fifth game back broken a broken foot that had sidelined him for most of the team, the Bulls came to the Cavs’ former home, the Richfield Coliseum, and were boatraced, 123-97.
Jordan, then in his second season in the NBA, had scored 10-plus points in his first 89 games of his career.
That night, though, believe it or not, Jordan came off the bench and shot 4-of-13 in 16 minutes, finishing with eight points.
Chicago’s starters that night — Charles Oakley, Gene Banks, Sidney Green, George Gervin and Kyle Macy. Current Bulls GM John Paxson, Orlando Woolridge, Mike Holton, Rod Higgins and Mike Smrek joined Jordan in coming off the bench as those Bulls dropped to 24-48.
World B. Free led the Cavaliers to the win that night, with 38 points, on 15-of-26 shooting (2 of 2 from deep), and adding five rebounds, four assists and a block in 39 minutes.
Roy Hinson (28 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block), the late Melvin Turpin (18 points, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block) and Edgar Jones (15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal) all reached double figures for Cleveland, while Dirk Minniefield and Keith Lee also started and Eddie Johnson, Mark West and Ron Brewer came off the bench.
Unfortunately for Cavs fans, they know all too well the revenge the Chicago Jordans exacted against Cleveland during the rest of his Hall of Fame career.
That eight-point game against Cleveland was Jordan’s career-low until Dec. 27, 2001, when he scored just six points for the Wizards against the Indiana Pacers.
Obviously embarrassed, as Jordan only could, he scored 51 and 45 points, respectively, in his next two games.
Jordan’s career-low came laster that season against the Lakers, when he played but 12 minutes and scored only two points. He did not play another game that season because of a knee injury.
He came back to play one more season at age 39 for the Wizards in 2002-03, playing in all 82 games, reaching double figures in 75 of those 82 games, 67 of which he started.