LOS ANGELES — LeBron James completed his triple-double collection on Tuesday.
With 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 112-107 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar became the first player in league history to log a triple-double against all 30 NBA teams, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I had no idea,” James said after the win, which moved the Lakers to a league best 12-2. “Coach [Frank] Vogel came in here and said congratulations. I was like, I thought he was joking about my seven turnovers because I’ve been taking care of the ball so much. He said first player in NBA history to have a triple-double versus 30 teams, every team, so I was like, ‘OK. That’s pretty cool.'”
Throughout his career, James has handed out triple-doubles to opponents the way Oprah Winfrey once gifted cars to her audience, but he has upped his rate this season. The Thunder game was James’ fifth triple-double through 14 games, which included a stretch of three straight triple-doubles during a 3-0 road trip through Dallas, San Antonio and Chicago.
“You don’t realize he has a triple-double until … he’s got 27, nine and eight and going to finish with 30, 11 and 12,” Lakers guard Danny Green said. “He does it so easily and quietly — well, not quietly but just easily. And he also does it by making other guys better and finding other guys.”
James came into the night averaging 25 points, 7.6 rebounds and a league-leading 11.2 assists per game in his 17th season.
“It’s unbelievable,” Vogel said. “He’ll say it’s because he’s been in the league for so long, but we all know that it’s because he’s remarkable. For him to be doing it for as long as he’s been doing it, that’s how you knock out all 30 teams with a stat like that. I don’t know if that will ever get accomplished again.”
Actually, James might not have the accomplishment to himself very long. He edged Russell Westbrook to become the first to achieve the feat. Westbrook, coincidentally, has only the Thunder missing from his triple-double résumé; he played in Oklahoma City his entire career before being traded to the Houston Rockets the past offseason.
Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd is third with triple-doubles against 28 teams, Larry Bird is fourth (25), and Magic Johnson is fifth (24). However, Bird and Johnson played the bulk of their careers before the league had two rounds of expansions.
“He said I was pretty bad tonight at first because of my seven turnovers, and I agreed,” James said of Kidd. “He’s the first person to come critique me after the game, which I love, and then he said congratulations with the feat I was able to do.”
James has 86 career triple-doubles, which ranks fifth all time.
“I really don’t know what to think about it, to be honest,” James said. “I’ve had some great teammates and coaches that have put me in position to be able to facilitate. My teammates have made shots for me throughout my career. Coaches have put me in position to be successful scoring the ball, and I’ve tried to read and react the ball off the rim as far as getting the rebounds, and hopefully throughout all those triple-doubles, I hope I got a winning record in those games because that is what’s most important.
“I really don’t know what to really think about it. It’s a pretty cool stat to know. I’m glad it happened in a win.”