LeBron James joins the story as he comes to New York to take on the Nets and Knicks.
And he will not be in a good mood.
James – who is 117 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA all-time record – was apoplectic after officials in the Lakers-Celtics game failed to give Jayson Tatum a foul as James drove to the basket for a potential game-winning layup at the end of the regular Saturday night. The Celtics won 125-121 in overtime.
James was beside himself after the no-call, hopping up and down, hitting the court and holding his hands on his head before falling to his knees in the paint, resting his head in his arms on the ground.
“There was contact,” crew chief Eric Lewis told a pool reporter after the game, per ESPN. “Back then, during the game, we didn’t see a foul. The crew missed the play.”
“It’s a challenge,” James said after scoring 41 points in 15-for-30 shooting. “I do not get it. I’m attacking the color like every one of the guys in this league shooting double digit free throws every night and I don’t get it. I do not get it.”
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The Nets (Monday) and the Knicks (Tuesday) now have to deal with an angry LeBron — and his angry teammates.
The Nets (30-19) beat the Knicks 122-115 on Saturday night at the Barclays Center when Kyrie Irving, LeBron’s former Cleveland teammate, scored 21 of his strong-playing 32 points in the fourth quarter while former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was on court .
The Nets continue to play without star Kevin Durant (knee), who James said was the “first” who could overtake him on the scorers’ list.
James, who turned 38 on December 30, averages 30.2 points per game. At that rate, he would break the NBA scoring record in New Orleans on Saturday.
Obviously, it would be ideal for James if he broke the record at home in Los Angeles, where Kareem starred with the Showtime Lakers. The Lakers’ next home game is on February 7 against the Thunder.
“I think he deserves a proper celebration if he breaks that record in LA,” NBA veteran Antonio Daniels said recently on NBA radio SiriusXM.
Abdul-Jabbar has held the record since April 5, 1984, almost nine months to the day before James was born.
While Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook was his trademark, James has never had a shot that defined him.
“It’s not like I have a signature one-legged Dirk [Nowitzki] Fadeaway or a patented Michael Jordan fadeaway or a Kareem Skyhook or something [Hakeem Olajuwon] Dream Shake,” said ESPN’s James Dave McMenamin. “I think the only signature people are always talking about is my signature tomahawk dunk in transition.”
James also remembers how to score in crunch time. He ranks second this season behind Irving in the fourth quarter.
“I mean, I know how to put the ball in the hole,” James told ESPN. “When I say I’m not a goalscorer, I say that in the sense that it was never the part of my game that defined me. … But there is an argument for it. When you look at how long this record has stood and how awesome Kareem is to be able to achieve something like that.
“But it’s not my place to discuss it because I’ve never felt like this before.”
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Adam Zagoria is a freelance reporter covering Seton Hall and NJ college basketball for NJ Advance Media. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamZagoria and visit his website at ZAGSBLOG.com.