There are going to be a few milestones and records with LeBron James name next to them by the time he retires. One of them might be playing more minutes than anyone in NBA history, including the playoffs and his time with Team USA in international competitions.
James has played 44,260 of professional basketball, which includes 35,769 in the regular season, 7561 in the playoffs and 930 in FIBA competitions.
He still hasn’t celebrated his 31st birthday, he’s already leaving behind players like Clyde Drexler, Steve Nash, Jerry West, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, although the last two on the list had a much shorter career than most players of their caliber have because of injuries (in Bird’s case) or retiring because of HIV (in Magic’s case).
When compared with other players who were also born in 1984, the distinction is even clearer. Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh, both entering the league the same year as James, are way behind him in the total minutes toll.
It does help that James came into the NBA before the league banned players from entering the draft straight out of high school. He played his first NBA game before he turned 19 and has been lucky enough to avoid serious injuries so far in his career. Missing 13 games last season, some of it due to rest, was the most he’s ever missed.
He’s also been on long playoff runs. James and the Cavaliers did miss the playoffs during his first two years in the league, but he’s made up for that by never getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. He’s been to six NBA finals and once more in the conference finals. Always being the best player on his team, he never gets to rest a lot during the postseason, averaging 42.5 minutes per game.
Combined with his FIBA record (Three Olympic games and one World Championship) put James at 44,260 total minutes of basketball since entering the league. He still has more than 20,000 minutes to catch up with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (66,297), but he’s second on this list among active players (Kobe Bryant is fourth all-time with 55,941) and quickly moving up the charts.