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6 LeBron James shots to know, and watch, as he nears NBA scoring mark

LeBron James once made an 83-foot shot.

Hit two shots from behind the basket in the same year, including this one.

Dunked so hard on a player’s head that the ball bounced back through the basket. 

But none of those were good enough to make our list – six of the most memorable shots of James’ career – as he zeroes in on the NBA’s all-time scoring record.

There’s plenty to choose from with James’ having taken more than 14,000 shots from the floor and more than 8,000 shots from the foul line but no better place to start than the beginning.

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How it all began

Oct. 29, 2003

Four months after the Cleveland Cavaliers picked LeBron James No. 1 overall in the NBA draft, he was set to make his regular-season debut against the Sacramento Kings at ARCO Arena in Sacramento.

Fast forward to the first quarter.

Curling around a screen, James took a bounce pass from Cavs guard Ricky Davis. He drained a 16-foot baseline jumper as Kings big man Brad Miller watched with apparent relief. 

“He wasn’t going to get his first pts on a dunk I tell u that,’’ Miller texted USA TODAY Sports.

‘No regard for human life’

May 13, 2008

It was Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics when James’ threw down a vicious dunk over Kevin Garnett, then the NBA’s reigning MVP.

“LeBron James with no regard for human life,’’ Kevin Harlan, TNT’s play-by-play announcer, exulted on the telecast.

Harlan was sitting next to Doug Collins, then a color commentator for TNT, when he made one of the more memorable calls in James’ career.

“When that happened, (Collins) took his left arm and put it against my chest and both of our chairs began to fall backward,’’ Harlan recalled, “and we had the crowd right in back of us, and then that’s when I said what I said.”

The blindfolded shot

Nov. 29, 2008

James ditched his signature headband in 2015, but it played a part in one of the more novel shots of his career. With the Cavaliers playing the Bucks at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, he drove down the lane.

As he neared the basket, Richard Jefferson, then playing for the Bucks, pulled the headband over James’ eyes.

“I guess that would be one way to try to stop LeBron,’’ Jim Paschke, who was the Bucks’ play-by-play announcer at the time, told USA TODAY Sports via text.

No luck. James, essentially blindfolded, still made the layup. No foul was called. 

“It’s not a clear hit,’’ Ron Garretson, one of the three referees that night, told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s a glancing blow.’’

Masked man goes for 61

March 3, 2014

James stood at the free throw line with a curious look as chants of “MVP, MVP’’ rained down on him at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.

He was still wearing a protective mask less than two weeks after suffering a broken nose. With 1:52 left in the game, he made a free throw to cap his 61-point game, which remains the highest-scoring game of his career.

Gerald Henderson, a shooting guard then playing for the then-Charlotte Bobcats said, “The Miami announcer has got this unique tone to him. If he’s saying LeBron’s name, it’s like, ‘LeeeBraaahn James!’ I just remember him saying that over and over and over and over. Like it wouldn’t stop.’’

At the buzzer

April 25, 2018

It ended with LeBron leaping onto the scorer’s table in celebration.

Game 5 of the first-round playoff series between the Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers. Score tied at 95. With three seconds left, James took the inbounds pass and drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The shot helped propel the Cavs to the 2018 NBA Finals.

Darren Collison, a guard then playing for the Pacers, said: “He’s always going to keep you on your toes on the help side because he’s willing to pass it to the guy you’re guarding. So the guy that’s guarding him, you just got to pray that he misses.’’

Picture-perfect dunk

Feb. 6, 2020

There stood James Harden, Russell Westbrook and three other Houston Rockets.

All they could do inside Staples Center in Los Angeles was watch James on a breakaway that culminated with artistry.

A double-pump, two-handed reverse dunk that NBA photographer Andrew Bernstein captured in an iconic photo.

Bernstein said he was sitting on the opposite end of the court and used remote cameras.

“I can only get one shot on the strobes that go off and you can actually see them in the ceiling in the background in the top left and right of the photo,” he said. ‘The technology is pretty amazing.”

So are the shots. 

All six of them.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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