Miami (AP) — It was 2006. LeBron his James wasn’t even halfway through his first stint in Cleveland. He made it to the playoffs for the first time and is already a globally recognized star, well on his way to becoming the best player in the game.
Average 30.2 points at 21 years old.
Fast forward 16 years. He left Cleveland, went to Miami, won two championships, got married, fathered three children, returned to Cleveland, won another championship, headed to Los Angeles, finished his career with the Lakers. Won the championship for the 4th time. Conversation of the best players.
Average 30.1 points at 37 years old.
James turns 38 on Friday, halfway through the 20th season. No one in NBA history averaged more points than a 37-year-old. far cry. Karl Malone averaged 23.2 points at his age, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar averaged 20.2 points and Julius Irving averaged 20.2 points. He is the 150th player in NBA history to have played at age 37. His 149-man scoring average in the other clip was him 8.3 points per game.
Still here is James, simply not slowing down. At his age of 37, he scored more averages than he did at age 22, 23, 24, or any other age in the last 16 years.
Lakers coach Durbin Hamm said, “I know how enthusiastic he is about the game. “Just being in the gym and watching him in the gym…you know, he is not just there and playing his own horse game.
James is looking to overtake Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time NBA scoring record, just 574 points behind.
“I know how much I invested in the game,” James said. “I know how much I put into my body, my mind and all that. Playing at this level over the years, I don’t think I’ve ever had so many miles and so much written on my resume.”
Not many. If you have. Anyway, I’m not 37.
Not only did he average 30.1 points, but he also had 8.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists on this lap around the sun. He was the only six players to average more rebounds at that age, and his four players in Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, and John Stockton (all-time points his guard). 4) recorded more assists at an average of 37.
At his current pace, James was able to catch Abdul-Jabbar for the scoring record by early February. By time, the record may be out of reach.
“He’s always working on his craft,” said Miami coach Eric Spoelstra. “So he’s going to keep developing new skills to put in his toolkit. I can tell you, he’s like a computer, and when he sees other players working on something, or doing something in the game, he’s like, ‘Oh, do that I want to try it,’ he says. …he never gets tired of it.
But he is tired of losing.
The Lakers are 14-21 without longtime All-Star big man Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis is out with a foot injury and has no timetable for his return. They are languishing near the bottom of his NBA and need a major recovery to avoid missing out on a playoff spot for the second season in a row. The team has not won a playoff series since James and Davis led the Lakers to his 2020 NBA title. They were eliminated in the first round in 2021 and did not advance to 2022.
James is averaging 27.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists this season. He has never finished a season with such high averages in all three of these categories of his. Not in any of his four MVP seasons.
And so far it seems to be going in vain.
“From a team perspective, I don’t want to end my career playing at this level,” James said. “I still want to be able to compete for championships because I know what any ballclub can do with the right pieces.”
He will be a 38-year-old All-Star when games begin in February. Only 5 other players over the age of 38 participated in that game. The Lakers are not without hopes for the season as he is only three games left from the tournament spot.
But he’s not playing for the mark of All-Star longevity, or a squeaky chance at the playoffs, or to set a record.
“I’m a winner, and I want to win,” James said. “I want to win, I want to give myself the chance to win, and I still want to fight for a championship. It was a goal, I know it takes stages to get there, and when I get there, I know how to get there.
“Playing basketball at this level just to play basketball is not in my DNA. We’ll see how fresh the mind is.”
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Tim Reynolds, Associated Press