While that specific scene in the commercial might have been staged, it’s not fiction. A personal trainer stretches James’ hips, back and legs before every game inside the Heat’s locker room.
“I’ve gradually built on it through the years,” James said. “As you get older, you have to do more, but I’ve been pretty consistent with what I do to keep me out on the floor.”
All that stretching — and not some superhuman ability to avoid injury — is what has made him one of the most durable players in the NBA. Only guards Jason Terry and Andre Miller have played in more games than James since he broke into the league in 2003.
James recently turned 28. Drafted out of high school in 2003, he has averaged 27.6 points per game in the regular season for his career. When he passes Kobe Bryant for youngest to 20,000, he will have beaten Bryant to the milestone by more than a year. Bryant was 29 years and 122 days old when he reached the 20,000-point mark.
“When people are having conversations about the best scorers in the game, my name never comes up in that case, so the fact that I’m close to a milestone is a great thing,” James said.
Youngest to 20,000 points should not be confused with fastest to 20,000 points. Wilt Chamberlain needed only 499 regular-season games to reach 20,0000 points. James, who played his 726th regular-season game on Wednesday, will be the seventh-fastest player in NBA history to 20,000 points based on regular-season games.
“Ultimately, LeBron is not going to be judged on how many points he scores,” teammate Shane Battier said. “If he wanted to lead the league in scoring, then he could lead the league in scoring. That’s not what his game is and that’s not what his legacy will be. He’s going to score a ton of points.”