LeBron James' best year ever got even better Wednesday, with the Miami Heat forward recording the first-ever triple-double by a U.S. player in the Olympics. While assists have only been recorded in the Olympics since 1976, James' 11 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists in the 119-86 quarterfinal victory over Australia more than measured up when considering:
-- The 14 rebounds were two off the U.S. Olympic record of Tim Duncan and Jim Brewer.-- The 12 assists tied James for the U.S. Olympic record held by Phil Ford, Leon Wood and Michael Jordan.
-- He completed the triple-double in just 30 minutes of action.
-- And he did it on just seven shots.
The NBA's regular-season and Finals Most Valuable Player is now two victories from adding Olympic gold to his 2012 NBA championship, with Argentina up next on Friday, in a 4 p.m. Eastern semifinal at the London Olympics.
The gold-medal game is 10 a.m. Eastern Sunday, with the winner of United States-Argentina facing the winner of Russia-Spain, a semifinal also to be played Friday.
"LeBron was magnificent tonight, but he has been magnificent the whole time," U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said in the pool quotes issued by USA Basketball. "He is so unselfish. His rebounding and passing tonight were incredible and he is all about winning, and he is the best basketball player right now and he showed that tonight."
Kobe Bryant, who broke out of his Olympic funk with 20 points for the United States, agreed.
"I have been watching the Dream Team in 1992 and [ Scottie] Pippen was closing in on a triple-double almost every game," Bryant said when asked to rate James' triple-double. "You have certain players that have a nose for the ball and the ball seems to find them and they make great plays and he is just a phenomenal talent."
James, who also had a triple-double when the Heat won the championship with their Game 5 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals, downplayed Wednesday's achievement.
"I'm proud of the win," he said. "That's all that matters to me. I don't really care about me statistically. The win is more important. I'm happy to be able to move on."
He said his team is well-positioned going into Friday's semifinal.
"We are playing some good ball right now," he said. "We are going against a team next that we know, that we are used to playing. They are going to be excited to play us; we are going to be excited to play them, too."
The United States routed Argentina in pool play, also recording a decisive victory over Argentina in a pre-Olympic exhibition.
Having bypassed college, and therefore the one-and-done NCAA Tournament, James said he embraces the Olympic knockout round.
"Absolutely, it feels different," he said. "Every game is a Game 7. For me, not being able to experience college, a lot of those guys -- I think we have three guys who didn't experience college -- it's a Game 7 feel for us and we have to approach that every night."