NBA

LeBron James after matching Michael Jordan achievement: 'I want to be respected'

By Sports Desk April 01, 2024

LeBron James suggested he is still not respected by some opponents after matching a Michael Jordan achievement with a 40-point showing for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 20-time NBA All-Star registered a career-high nine 3-pointers in the Lakers' 116-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on Sunday.

That helped James to equal Jordan in becoming the only two NBA players ever to record multiple games of 40-or-more points after turning 39.

James, who went 13-for-17 from the floor and 9-for-10 from deep, felt he proved a point with his performance against the Nets.

"I don't ever have to lean on [3-pointers] because I can do so much," said James, whose 3-point percentage of 41.6 per cent for the season is the best of his career.

"I can score on any level on the floor basically once I cross half court. But being able to have a growth mindset and be able to work on things that the league is changing to, the league is a heavy 3-point shooting league.

"I'm not one of those guys that wants to go out there and shoot 12, 14 or 15 3s per game. But I want to be respected, and teams have to play me from the outside. 

"That's still kind of one thing teams think. 'If we have to give up something, we'd much rather him shoot the ball from the outside'."

James has been nursing an ankle issue for much of this season, but he showed no signs of being below full fitness against the Nets.

"My foot has felt a lot better," James said. "I didn't have much time to really rep a lot last year because I had to make sure I could be on the floor running around or [not] putting much pounding of my foot on the floor. 

"I've had a lot of opportunity to get on the floor. You probably see me before every game out on the floor, working on my game, working on my craft. That's helped out a lot, too. 

"And just trying to stay consistent with my shot, do the same shot every time. And just work. Just work, work, work, work."

James scored 17 of his points in the fourth quarter as he helped the Lakers get over the line after their lead was reduced from 26 points to just eight at one point.

"It's incredible," coach Darvin Ham said. "I told him in the huddle before his last little stretch and we ultimately subbed him out that I was just extremely thankful that he packed the cape on the road trip. We needed all nine of those 3s."

Los Angeles have now won six of their last seven and are 42-33 for the season, placing them ninth in the Western Conference with seven regular-season games to go.

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