10 things you may not know about Euroleague’s all-time top scorer Mike James

Mike James just surpassed Vassilis Spanoulis to become the all-time scorer in the history of the Euroleague.

The former NBAer has played 10 seasons in Europe, averaging 16.5 points per game throughout his career in the continent’s top competition.

Here are ten things you may not know about Mr. Natural.

Played in Italy's third division before signing with a Euroleague team...

Mike James began his professional career in Zagreb, Croatia in 2012. He played there for a couple of months, before signing a deal with Paffoni Omegna to play in Italy’s third division.

After a successful stint in Italy, he made the jump to Greece’s first division, where he signed a deal with Kolossos Rodou to play in Greece’s island of Rhodes. His spectacular performances – especially against Euroleague powerhouses Panathinaikos and Olympiacos – landed him a contract a few months later in Baskonia.

Two-way deal, proper NBA contract and released in the same month...

In 2017, Mike James attended the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League with the Phoenix Suns. After leading the team in points (20.5) and assists (5.0), the Suns signed him to a two-way contract. He became the first player to sign a two-way contract after spending several years overseas in Europe.

After some good performances in the Association, the Suns converted his contract to a guaranteed one-year deal. Two weeks later, however, Phoenix decided to waive him. Three years later, James said ‘I don’t care no more’ about playing in the NBA, and admitted he never got an answer as to why the Suns released him.

In the same season (2017-18), he signed a two-way contract with the Pelicans, but he played in just four games before parting ways with the team.

He's the only American player in the Top 10 scorers in Euroleague history...

Mike James is currently the all-time leading scorer in Euroleague history, and the only American player in the Top 10 scorers list.

Euroleague legend Kyle Hines of Olimpia Milan is the second American in the all-time scoring list, currently ranked No. 11.

He's played in five Euroleague teams...

Mike James‘ career in the Euroleague started in Spain, where he played for Baskonia. He then moved to Panathinaikos in Athens, Greece where he was a fan favorite, then to Milan, Moscow for CSKA, and now for the last two years, he’s playing for Monaco.

Last year, he led the team to the Euroleague Final Four where they eventually lost to Olympiacos in the semifinal. This year, Monaco is the fourth seed in the Euroleague standings.

He's friends with Kevin Durant...

Back in May of 2021, Mike James signed a deal with Kevin Durant’s Brooklyn Nets after he was indefinitely suspended from his former team, CSKA Moscow.

How did he end up in Brooklyn, though? With a little help from his close friend KD. Durant reportedly played a significant role in getting James to Brooklyn for the latter part of the season.

James and Durant’s friendship, however, didn’t end there. James has invited KD a few times in Monaco and Greece during the Euroleague playoffs, and the two have even joked about the possibility of KD playing one day in Europe.

In 2021, he said he would retire in two years...

Back in 2021, he said he would retire in two years. 2023 went by and James is under contract with Monaco until the end of the season, where he’ll be a free agent. As per James in 2024, his next contract will be his last.

Well, we hope not.

He said Stephen Curry is a 'one-dimensional' player

Back in the summer of 2022, Mike James said in the “Players Choice” that Stephen Curry is a ‘one-dimensional’ player.

And Steph Curry himself had a petty response to James’ comments. Weeks later, The Natural clarified that he doesn’t have a problem with Curry, and admitted he says a lot of controversial things cause he thinks outside the box.

He ranks No. 13 in minutes played in Euroleague history...

Mike James isn’t even in the Top 20 in games played in Euroleague history. Meanwhile, he also ranks No. 13 in minutes played. He averages 28.3 minutes per game in his career in the EuroLeague (second all-time) and 16.46 points per game.

He set a record by scoring 52 points for Lamar University during his college career...

Back in 2010, Mike James scored a school record 52 points at Lamar University’s 112-64 win over a Division III school, Louisiana College.

James came off the bench and in 28 minutes, he put up 52 points with eleven three-pointers and broke a 30-year-old record for Lamar University.

“If I come back or anything, they’ll always know who I am. I’ll always be in the record books,” said James post-game, per Beaumont Enterprise.

His nickname is Mr. Natural...

Mike James is a scoring bucket. In other words, he’s a natural. Mr. Natural. James’ Twitter handle is ‘The Natural‘, so it just makes sense that fans all over Europe have made his nickname Mr. Natural.

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype