“It’s a historic regular season,” said Heat forward Shane Battier, who believes James should be the unanimous MVP. “We may never see numbers like this and performance like this — on both ends — like we saw this year.”
James’ final numbers: 26.8 points, 8 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Since the league began charting steals four decades ago, only Jordan and Larry Bird have put up similar numbers in a season.
“I’ve been playing this game for a long, long time,” Heat forward Udonis Haslem said. “I’ve seen a lot of players. I’ve played in Europe, played in a lot of different places and hands-down he’s the best basketball player I’ve ever seen. I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do on the basketball court.”
The Heat were 61-15 with James in the lineup this season, going 21-10 when he took 19 shots or more, and 40-5 — a significantly better record — when he took no more than 18 attempts. When he had at least eight assists, they were darn close to unbeatable, going 28-3 in those contests.
And he nearly put up a perfect shooting game along the way this season, going 13 for 14 in a win over Charlotte. The one miss was a layup, and it appeared he was fouled.
“Greatness always looks for something to get better,” said Doug Collins, who coached Philadelphia this season. “I had the great fortune of being around Michael Jordan and he always came back a better player. ... And that’s what LeBron has done, the way he’s shooting the ball, over 40 percent from 3, 56 percent from the field. You get him in the open court, you can’t stop him. Not only that, but he’s the best defensive player in the league at his position.”
James said many times that last season was his best season, for plenty of obvious reasons. He got engaged, won an Olympic gold medal, a third NBA MVP award and of course helped the Heat win a championship — his first, after years and years of trying to break through.