With a win on Friday night against the Miami Heat, LeBron James would secure his fourth NBA championship and add yet another accolade to his already amazing resume. But while a potential Los Angeles Lakers title will undoubtedly awaken the take monsters in GOAT arguments about James vs. Michael Jordan, let’s leave MJ out of it for a minute. It’s worth taking some time to appreciate what James has accomplished so far, because it’s remarkable.
Here are six stats that demonstrate just how special and singular James’ postseason career has been.
1. Playoff games played: 259
Game 5 will be James’ 259th playoff game, tying Derek Fisher for most all-time.
That’s incredible on its own. But when you consider how hard James plays and how central he has been in every single postseason game he has played, the fact becomes even more impressive.
Among the top 10 in career playoff games, James is No. 1 in usage rate at 32.1%, per Basketball-Reference.com.
2. Missed playoff games: 0
Since making his postseason debut on April 22, 2006, James has never missed a single playoff game due to injury. Not one!
Think about that. Almost every year the Finals are affected by major injuries. Last year it was Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. This year it has been Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo. Through 10 Finals trips, James’ durability is unreal.
I mean, this streak of consecutive postseason games can be beaten only by someone who also beats his massive total playoff count:
Most consecutive playoff games played
LeBron James: 258
John Stockton: 182
Michael Jordan: 179
Wilt Chamberlain: 160
Among active players, James Harden ranks second at 128, less than half of James’ total. The King’s durability alone is mind-blowing, but one way to gain a new appreciation for his postseason career is to simply compare his basic playoff tallies to his active peers.
3. Playoff minutes played: 10,728
Durant ranks second among active players in total playoff minutes played, sitting at 5,598. James and Andre Iguodala are the only other active players to have racked up more than 5,000 playoff minutes. And here’s the noteworthy part: James has played 5,000 more minutes than Durant at 10,728 (and counting).
A guy who still has a claim as the best player in the world is doing it after he has doubled almost every single active player out there in postseason time spent.
Oh, and don’t forget that James is also No. 1 in overall playoff minutes, which is rare air. The gap between James at No. 1 and Magic Johnson at No. 10 is as large as the gap between Johnson and Kawhi Leonard at No. 59.
4. Playoff points scored: 7,423
James does a lot more than just soak up minutes. It’s his blend of volume and production that is truly incredible. He’s the only player in league history who has scored at least 6,000 playoff points.
Only one other active player has half as many points as James’ 7,423, and again that’s Durant at 4,043.
With James still averaging more than 25 playoff points per game, ticking up his absurd total by another 1,000 points is definitely on the table. That kind of record might be impossible to catch.
5. Playoff assists: 1,854
One huge reason James has been to nine of the past 10 Finals is because his court vision and passing tend to make the players around him a lot more effective.
And after surpassing Stockton in Game 3 of this series, James now ranks second in career playoff assists. Only Johnson has more.
Entering Game 5, James ranks first in total playoff points, second in assists and — as if that weren’t enough — sixth in rebounds. He’s the only player in league history who appears in the top 10 in each of those fundamental categories.
6. Closeout win percentage: 79.2%
Stats are one thing, but triumphs are the ultimate prize. As James sits on the precipice of another title, consider this doozy: Nobody in league history has been more reliable closing out a series than James, who has won an astounding 79% of his closeout games.
Best win% in closeout games (via Elias Sports Bureau, minimum 25 games)
LeBron James: 38-10 (79.2%)
Derek Fisher: 39-12 (76.5%)
Tim Duncan: 35-14 (71.4%)
Don Nelson: 20-8 (71.4%)
It gets more wild: James comes into Game 5 of these Finals having won 17 of his past 18 games with an opportunity to clinch the series. That’s not good news for Miami.
At age 35, James is more than the elder statesman of the best basketball league in the world. Maybe you think he’s the greatest of all time, maybe you don’t. Regardless, his ridiculous playoff stats make one thing crystal clear: Nobody has left a greater mark on postseason basketball for as long as this guy has. And he’s not done yet. Just ask his old team.