James continues to break the mold of what's achievable for an all-time great NBA player and is establishing seemingly impossible benchmarks in terms of age and performance.
5 Oldest NBA players to score more than 40
With his 46 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 25th, 2021, 'The King' put his name in the 22nd place of the oldest players ever to reach 40 points in a single game. With his performance and proven durability, we might see him at the top of this list in a few years.
Longevity is not exclusive to LeBron James' career though, but he is certainly a rare figure in NBA history, as he is competing for NBA MVP and is the undisputed best player in the league in his 18th campaign.
However, others have been able to put together a big night even in the twilight of their careers. Below, we list the five oldest players to score 40 points in an NBA game.
#5 Jamal Crawford - 39 years and 20 days
Jamal Crawford is one of the best bench players in NBA history and is tied with Lou Williams at the top of the Sixth Man Player of the Year award wins with three. He is also the fifth-oldest player to score more than 40 points in an NBA game.
Crawford exploded for 51 points for the Phoenix Suns against the Dallas Mavericks on April 9th, 2019. With that performance, he also became the oldest player to reach 50 points in a single game and surpassed Nick Anderson's previous record of most points scored off the bench in a single game (50).
#4 Karl Malone - 39 years and 231 days
Karl Malone could be a distant 'rival' of LeBron James in terms of longevity and extended greatness. Malone is the oldest player in NBA history to win the regular-season MVP award, at age 35 in the 1998-99 season (his 14th season).
Malone is also the fourth-oldest NBA player to score more than 40 points in a single game. The power forward did it back on March 12th, 2003, with 40 points against the Orlando Magic at 39 years, 231 days. He also added nine rebounds and seven assists in the game.
#3 Michael Jordan - 39 years and 321 days
It is certainly weird to consider Michael Jordan in a statistic driven by longevity. Many fans could get confused about Jordan's career and assume he only played with the Chicago Bulls from 1984 to 1998 with a brief hiatus between 1993 and 1995.
However, Jordan returned to the NBA in 2001 to play for the Washington Wizards and though he was not the same player, he did have some great performances. On January 4th, 2003, Jordan put up 41 points against the Indiana Pacers at 39 years, 321 days to become the then oldest player to reach 40 points in a regular-season game, surpassing his own record from 2002 (38 years, 343 days).
However, he was only getting started.
#2 Michael Jordan - 39 years and 349 days
Only 28 days after scoring 41 points against Indiana and beating Malone's previous record, Jordan continued his scoring outbursts with 45 points in a game against the New Orleans Hornets to give the Wizards a five-point victory.
Jordan was set to retire after the 2002-03 NBA season and this was his highest-scoring game of what was his final year in the league.
#1 Michael Jordan - 40 years and four days
On February 21st, 2003, Jordan had the 173rd and final 40-point game of his NBA career. Just four days after turning 40 years old, 'His Airness' put up 43 points against the New Jersey Nets.
He made 18 of his 30 field-goal attempts in that game and did not shoot a single three-pointer en route to his 43-point night and the Wizards' three-point win over the reigning Eastern Conference champions, who would represent the East in the 2003 NBA Finals too.
In his final NBA season (his 14th full campaign), Jordan averaged 20 points, six rebounds and 3.8 assists per game and made 45% of his field goals for the 37-45 Wizards.
He was also the only player to appear in each of the Wizards' 82 regular-season games (started 67 times) and led the team in Player Efficiency Rating with 19.3.