MIAMI — LeBron James speaks often of his appreciation for NBA history.
On Wednesday, he'll likely make some history.
James needs only two points to reach 2,000 for the season, which would put him on another yet list alongside some of the game's greatest players. The NBA's two-time reigning MVP will become the eighth player to score 2,000 points seven times — and at 26, he will be the youngest member of that elite club.
"It means a lot," James said. "It means I've stayed healthy over the years. It also means the teammates and coaching staffs that I've had have given me the leeway to go out there and score. I've just tried to take full advantage of it. There's a lot of hard work that goes into it and I just try to go out on the court and be the best player I can every night."
There's bigger issues for Miami (54-23) to tackle against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, namely trying to stay in position for the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference. The Heat entered Tuesday a half-game ahead of Boston (53-23) in the East race; the Celtics were playing Tuesday night at home against Philadelphia.
Plus, there's the not-so-small matter of Dwyane Wade's health. The 2006 NBA finals MVP sat out practice Tuesday with a bruised right thigh, and isn't certain if he'll be able to play against the Bucks in a game that Miami probably can't afford to lose if it wants to hold home-court advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Still, James' latest accomplishment is one that Miami is noticing.
"You have to really catch yourself and not take his talent for granted," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We say it all the time, that greatness is consistency. You can book his numbers every single year against the best competition. And he does it every single night, to the point where I think a lot of people do take it for granted."
Every other player with seven seasons of scoring 2,000 points — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Alex English, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Oscar Robertson and Dominique Wilkins — is in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
James will be the eighth person in that seven-timers club, and Kobe Bryant needs only 85 points in the Lakers' final six games to get to 2,000 again and join as well. Of that group, James will get there two years faster than anyone else; Robertson was 28 when he scored 2,000 for the seventh and final time.
Everyone else on that list, except Abdul-Jabbar, joined James as having seven consecutive 2,000-point seasons. Malone is the only one with more, 11 straight and 12 in 13 seasons, the exception being only the 50-game season in 1998-99.
And Jordan reached 2,000 points in 10 consecutive full seasons, but that stretch was broken by his brief retirement for baseball.
"Knowing where I come from, knowing where I just was — I mean, in 2000, 2001, I was still in high school back in Ohio with a lot of dreams to become great — the fact that my name gets put with the great is definitely a testament to my work ethic and the people around me," James said.
One of the common thoughts around the NBA was that James, Wade and Chris Bosh all would have their stats plummet by playing together in Miami.
Even to their own surprise, that wasn't exactly the case.
James may lead in the NBA in total points for the first time this season, after finishing second on that list in each of the last six seasons. He entered Tuesday three points ahead of Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant.
James' scoring average of 26.6 this season is only a little more than a point down from his average during seven seasons as Cleveland's primary offensive threat. Wade is averaging 25.7 points, just 0.9 points shy of what he managed a year ago. Bosh averaged 20.2 points in seven years with Toronto; he's at 18.7 this season as Miami's No. 3 option.
"You automatically think when you bring three guys together that are used to having the ball, it's going to take a lot away. ... It's just a testament to us figuring it out," Wade said. "A lot of people questioned, 'Can we play together?' I think we've done a great job."
The numbers, naturally, support Wade's words.
"Just trying to stay above the curve," James said.
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