July 14, 2024


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LeBron James’ most notable Madison Square Garden appearances

LeBron James’ most notable Madison Square Garden appearances

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will travel to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Knicks on Saturday (8:30 p.m. EST on ABC).

James has played 31 games in the world’s most famous arena, amassing a record of 22-9. His averages at Madison Square Garden — 28.2 points, 7.3 assists and 6.9 rebounds — are not far off from his overall career average — 27.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists.

He’s only faced the Knicks once in a playoff series, the 2012 Eastern Conference First Round, which the Miami Heat won 4-1. He averaged 27.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists, and only scored less than 20 points once in that series.

James has had his fair share of memorable games at Madison Square Garden throughout the years. Here’s a look at some of the most notable.

2008: 50 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 53% shooting

Game result: 119-105, Cleveland Cavaliers win

After dropping 45 points at home against the Knicks in November, James did himself one better at the Garden in March.

He became the first player with at least 50 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds in a game since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Jan.19, 1975, according to the Associated Press. James exited the game to chants of “MVP!” and called the standing ovation “a dream come true.”

2017: 23 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, 50% shooting

Game result: 104-101, Cavs win

Though the numbers aren’t among James’ best at the Garden, it was the on-court antics that became the story. James and Enes Freedom had a butting of heads in the first quarter.

James dunked the ball, and then wouldn’t move out of then-Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina’s way as he tried to inbound the ball. Freedom took offense to that, standing up for Ntilkina as James shoved Freedom, leading to a double technical.

Freedom said postgame: “I don’t care … what you call yourself. King, Queen, Princess, whatever you are. You know what, we’re going to fight and nobody out there [is] going to punk us.”

James led a fourth-quarter comeback to win the game and had a response on Instagram.

2010: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, 60.9% shooting

Game result: 113-91, Heat win

In his first game in New York as a member of the Heat, James recorded a highly efficient triple-double. Fans booed him since he didn’t join the Knicks in the offseason, but it wasn’t enough to hinder his play on the court.

The 60.9% shooting from the field marks his third-highest FG percentage all-time at Madison Square Garden (70% once, 70.6% twice).

2009: 52 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 51.5% shooting

Game result: 107-102, Cavaliers win

In arguably the most iconic game James has played at Madison Square Garden, he put on a show. James accounted for nearly half of the Cavaliers’ points. His 52 points were his season-high at the time.

The performance came two nights after Kobe Bryant set a then-MSG record with 61 points. James became one of two players — Michael Jordan was the other — to have multiple 50-point games as a visitor at the present Madison Square Garden.

2023: 28 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, 1 steals, 44% shooting

Game result: 129-123, Lakers win

Year 20 or not, James never misses an opportunity to wow the New York crowd.

It was his first game there since Jan. 2020, and James made it worth the wait. He had his first triple-double of the season as the Lakers squeaked out an overtime victory.

There was a buzz heading into the game, with James weeks away from breaking the all-time scoring record. However, after the game, James focused on his all-around skills instead.

“I just play the game the right way. I approach the game every night only trying to be a triple threat by scoring, rebounding, assisting, defending, and may the chips fall where they may,” he said.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this story.