The message was plain to see. Even when the Miami Heat star makes it look easy, it is hard work.
James hit another milestone Tuesday in the Heat's 104-95 win over the Toronto Raptors, scoring in double figures for the 500th straight game.
"We don't take his greatness for granted," said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. "We really don't. That's not something any average player can do.
"Part of his greatness is consistency — night in, night out you know what to expect."
To put his scoring consistency into perspective, only two other Miami players — Dwyane Wade (20) and Ray Allen (14) — reached double figures on the night.
James led all scorers with a season-high 35 points on 13-of-20 shooting. He also had eight assists and eight rebounds in his 36:01 time on the court.
For much of the game, James lurked in the shadows — turning on the jets as needed. At times, it was driving at the basket hell-for-leather. Other times it was sacrificing himself to draw defenders and open up the floor for a teammate.
The James arsenal is deep and dangerous.
The 28-year-old hit double digits in style, scoring on a put-back dunk with 2:31 remaining in the first quarter.
It was also a Miami franchise-record 222nd straight game in double figures for James, who ranks sixth on the NBA's all-time list of double-figure scoring streaks.
Michael Jordan leads with 866 games, set between 1986 and 2001. Kareem Abdul Jabbar is second (787) followed by Karl Malone (575), Moses Malone (526) and Abdul-Jabbar again (508).
"It's very humbling," James said of the elite company. "I mean I just go out and just play every night. And those are the results.
"When I see a stat like that it's like wow. Because I know the history of the game. I know the guys that paved the way for myself and my teammates. To be in such a great class like that, it's an amazing feeling."
Trailing 7-0 with just over three minutes gone in the first quarter, James finally put the Heat on the board with a short-range jumper. A jump shot, hook shot, missed hook shot and layup followed to set up the dunk, which came as a trailing James grabbed a rebound and sank it.
James headed to the bench with 1:31 left in the first quarter and didn't return until 5:08 into the second with Toronto leading 38-32.
He ran over Rudy Gay driving to the basket en route to two free throws to collect his dozen. Two more free throws moved the Heat within three at 49-46.
James blew past Jonas Valanciunas with the shot clock winding down and sank a layup with a free throw to follow to cut the lead to 50-49. Miami led 52-50 at the half.
After entering the second quarter, James assisted on eight points and scored seven himself.
The Heat star opened the scoring in the second half with a nice pick-and-roll play with Mario Chalmers and passed the 20-mark with a layup 2:01 in. With Miami leading 60-53, he accounted for more than a third of their points thanks to 8-of-10 shooting and five free throws.
James dug into his bag of tricks for a no-look pass to Wade under the basket, for his sixth assist. Wade returned the favour with an ally-oop pass some three minutes later.
James had 25 points, on 10-of-14 shooting — and Wade 18 after three quarters. No other Miami player was in double digits.
With James on the bench to open the fourth, Miami reeled off an 8-0 run and the Raps had not still scored by the time James returned with 8:29 remaining. James promptly sank a layup to extend the run to 12 points in the fourth quarter and 14 overall.
Toronto finally got its offence going but James closed the door. He was involved in all of the Heat's last 11 points, scoring eight himself and providing the assist for an Allen three-pointer.
The first road win of the season raised Miami's record to 3-2. Toronto slipped to 2-2.Suggest a correction