Are the Warriors turning LeBron James into Wilt Chamberlain — big stat lines and heartbreaks? No team in James’ career has tested the limits of his genius like the opponent he’s down 0-2 to right now

It came up Sunday night, while I was watching Game 2 at a bar with two friends. It was right after Stephen Curry’s most video-game-like 3-pointer, the fourth-quarter heave over Kevin Love from roughly 4 feet behind the 3-point line as the shot clock expired.

“Watching LeBron right now …” said my friend Jason, 31, shaking his head at Curry’s exploits, “I wonder if this is what it felt like watching Wilt Chamberlain play the Celtics back in the ‘60s.” Jason works in information technology. “Jerry West, too,” said Marcus. He’s 34 and works in higher education in Louisiana. “They both ran up against Bill Russell, Sam Jones, Red Auerbach and all those guys.” There is a case to be made: LeBron James’ current four-year war with Golden State may be the NBA’s modern-day equivalent.

Chamberlain is the game’s original statistical anomaly, the prophyte of modern-day bulls-in-china-shops like Shaquille O’Neal and James. There’s his 100-point game in March 1962. That same season he averaged a whopping 48.5 minutes per game while putting up 50 points and 25 rebounds a night. Chamberlain, a Philadelphia native, never averaged less than 18 rebounds per game in any season of his career, and he retired averaging 30 points and 23 rebounds per game. He was the game’s all-time leading scorer until he was surpassed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1984; Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan also eventually overtook him. Both Dirk Nowitzki and James will pass him early next season.

Chamberlain and Bill Russell met during Russell’s rookie season and Chamberlain’s freshman year at the University of Kansas in 1956-57. They became basketball’s original titan-on-titan rivalry. Chamberlain was the unstoppable force, which Russell has said forced him to think of different defensive schemes each time they competed. Russell and the Celtics were the immovable object in Chamberlain’s path toward NBA immortality.

“We talked about it one time,” Russell said of the lone conversation he had with Chamberlain about the difference in their careers. “[Wilt] said that [Russell having better teammates] was not true. Simply because his teammates had to feed him and I fed my teammates.”

LeBron’s virtuoso 51-8-8 performance that ended in a Game 1 loss felt very Wilt-esque.

From 1959-69, Russell and Chamberlain played against each other in 94 regular-season games. Neither was a particularly great free throw shooter, with Russell’s 54.2 percent nudging out Chamberlain’s 49.3 percent. Chamberlain had the edge in rebounding over Russell, who is widely considered the greatest defensive big man to ever live, 28.2 to 22.9. And Chamberlain more than doubled Russell in points per game, 29.9 to 14.2.

Chamberlain’s teams, however? They won only 37 of the 94 matchups, with the win-loss ratio slightly tighter in the playoffs. Chamberlain, again, held the advantage in points, rebounds and field goal percentage. But it was again Russell who walked away victorious in 29 of those 49 postseason matchups. A final tally: Russell’s Celtics defeated Chamberlain’s Warriors, 76ers and Lakers in 86 of 143 matchups (60 percent). Chamberlain and Russell played each other in eight different playoff series. Russell won seven of those eight series.

This is why watching James this postseason has been particularly astounding. In the first round vs. Indiana, the second round vs. Toronto and the Eastern Conference finals vs. Boston, James’ opponents had the better team. Cleveland just had the best player.

But no team in James’ first-ballot Hall of Fame career has tested the limits of his genius quite like the opponent he’s down 0-2 to right now. His virtuoso 51-8-8 performance that ended in a Game 1 loss felt very Wilt-esque. When Chamberlain snagged a still-record 55 rebounds in November 1960, he did so against Russell and the Celtics. But Wilt did so in a loss.

Although LeBron and the Golden State Warriors haven’t been attached at the hip his entire career in the way Chamberlain was to Russell and the Celtics, the history is peppered with special moments. In December 2012, the Warriors (with a then-rookie Draymond Green) shocked the defending champion Miami Heat at home. A month later, LeBron returned the favor in Oakland, becoming the youngest player to score 20,000 career points in the process.

A year later in January 2014, Steph Curry’s 36 points again led to another South Beach loss for the defending champion Heat. And right before heading into that year’s All-Star break, LeBron outdueled Steph (29 points and seven assists) with his own near triple-double of 36 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists and the game-winning 3 in Oakland. It ranks as the first classic duel between the two multiple MVPs — though the Bay Area monster hadn’t yet graduated into its current mutation. After that game, LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Curry had an always fascinating battle of “black men attempting to out-compliment the other.”

The past four Junes speak for themselves. The Cavs and Warriors are the only teams to ever play each other for the championship four consecutive times in any major American sport. Golden State has won two of three, invited former MVP Kevin Durant into the fold and, if they take care of business this week, could be returning to Oakland this weekend with their third title in four years — and Curry’s first career Finals MVP award.

The Cavaliers return to Cleveland in a series that should be tied. And beating Golden State four out of the next five games is a pipe dream. It’s James, the best player (like Wilt), against the unquestioned best team in the league for almost the last half decade (like Russell and the Celtics). Difficult takes a day and impossible takes a week. James, in most cases, makes impossible look like a random Tuesday. But the weight of that responsibility became crystal clear in one clip — when LeBron found out the Cavs still had timeouts left at the end of regulation in Game 1.

Instagram Photo

Love or loathe LeBron, the exasperation was uncomfortable to watch. He, more than anyone around the league, understands the value of getting any added advantage on the Warriors. They’re a python, smothering teams with ball movement, quick hands on defense and a steady stream of 3s. Every now and then, though, the Warriors will slip up, allowing a team to escape the constriction of their reptilian play. James knew this was the game. The entire world knew it too.

And Cleveland blew it with blunders both beyond their control and well within it. It’s how Chamberlain felt against the Celtics. Four Chamberlain vs. Russell series went to Game 7. Russell and Boston won all four — by a total of nine points. Russell is a perfect 10-0 in Game 7s in his iconic career.

Record-breaking stats mean nothing in the heat of the moment. No player has ever won a title without a team effort.

Role players traditionally play better at home. But if Cleveland is to at least make it a series, LeBron knows just what Russell and Chamberlain knew — that record-breaking stats mean nothing in the heat of the moment. And that no player has ever won a title without a team effort.

On Wednesday night, Cleveland will play like its season hangs in the balance — because it does. And Golden State will enter Quicken Loans Arena knowing it can inflict a body blow that would, effectively, leave LeBron down for the count. So either the Cavaliers make adjustments to their rotations and defensive schemes and find a better clip from 3-point range or the Warriors make it back to the Bay Area, trophy in tow, without having to cancel Saturday brunch plans.

Two for Tuesday: First female Globetrotter Lynette Woodard and trailblazing comedian Moms Mabley They both paved the way for other women in their fields to thrive

This week’s Two for Tuesday features a trailblazer in comedy, Moms Mabley, and Lynette Woodard, who is an Olympic gold medalist, the first female Globetrotter and a WNBA standout.

Lynette Woodard

When the Harlem Globetrotters were looking to add a female basketball player to their roster in 1985, they added Olympic gold medalist Lynette Woodard. She immediately made history by becoming the first female member of the Globetrotters, where she spent two years. She later signed with the newly formed WNBA, where she played two seasons.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, Woodard led her team to a state championship during a sophomore year in 1975. As a senior, she was an All-American. She went on to play at the University of Kansas, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in speech communications and human relations. While at Kansas, she scored the most points in NCAA women’s basketball history (3,649). She also made the most field goals (1,572) and had the most field goals attempted (2,994). She set school records in rebounds (1,714), free throws made (505), steals (522), and games played (139).

She spent two years in the Italian women’s league and led all players in scoring. She was the captain of the 1984 Olympic team. She played two seasons in the WNBA for the Cleveland Rockers and the Detroit Shock.

According to biography.com, Woodard has been inducted into 10 halls of fame, including the Naismith Hall of Fame (2002), Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2005), and the African-American Sports Hall of Fame (2006).

Publicity still portrait of American actress and comedienne Jackie ‘Moms’ Mabley for Mercury Records, 1965.

John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images

Moms Mabley

Moms Mabley was a trailblazer in her time and was the first black female comedian to grace the stage of the Apollo Theater in Harlem in the 1930s. Her stand-up routine challenged racial bigotry and her albums were funny with a tad bit of raunch.

Mabley’s stand-up persona was that of an old lady in a housedress who often brought to light racial bigotry in the form of humor. But offstage, she was young and glamorous, not allowing female traditionalism to define her.

Mabley was born Loretta Mary Aiken in Brevard, North Carolina, in the 1890s. Her firefighter father was killed in an explosion, followed by her mother who was later hit by a truck. According to biography.com, she endured a traumatic childhood including two rapes in her teens that both resulted in pregnancies.

Mabley didn’t let her traumatic childhood define her. She left home at the age of 14 and later joined the African-American vaudeville circuit as a comedian under the Theatre Owners Booking Association. It was there that she met Jack Mabley. The two entered a short relationship, but it was long enough for her to take his name. She became Jackie Mabley, eventually leading her to change her shtick to that of a nurturing role, leading her to evolve into “Moms.”

Films she appeared in include The Big Timers (1945), Boarding House Blues (1948), and the musical revue Killer Diller (1948), which featured Nat King Cole and Butterfly McQueen.

She also dived into a recording career with Chess Records when The Funniest Woman Alive became gold-certified. Other albums include Moms Mabley at the Playboy Club, Moms Mabley at the “UN” and Young Men, Si Old Men, No. She appeared on variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show, and performed at Carnegie Hall.

Mabley died on May 23, 1975. Comedian, actor and The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg paid homage to Mabley with her documentary Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin’ to Tell You, which was presented at the Tribeca Film Festival and was aired on HBO in 2013.