King James remains one of the league’s elites in year 20.
During a recent Cleveland Cavaliers-Oklahoma City Thunder game, Brooklyn Nets All-Star forward Kevin Durant hopped on watch-along streamer “NBA Hooper Vision” for an interview.
Durant, whose Nets will suit up tomorrow against your Los Angeles Lakers, cited 19-time superstar LA power forward LeBron James as setting a new benchmark for how to sustain a career.
“He’s setting the bar for what an athlete wants to be,” Durant said. “Not everybody can do this. This is like the greatest that you can get. … Especially in our era of basketball, to have someone who accomplished something like that is inspiring to see. It’s gonna set the precedent for basketball players for a long time.”
At 23-27, LBJ’s Lakers are still striving to compete for a play-in tournament bracket slot. Los Angeles is currently the 13th seed in the Western Conference, but is just 4.5 games behind the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers in a bunched-up West.
His scoring proficiency at age 38 is fairly unprecedented. Only LA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan (albeit in his Washington Wizards days) performed at or near this level. Though James is scoring better than either of them did at the same age, the league’s defensive rules changed mightily in 2004, ahead of LeBron’s second year in the league. That has made scoring significantly easier in this era. This writer is not saying James is any less amazing, merely trying to say that he is more level with Abdul-Jabbar and Jordan’s play at his age, despite the disparity in scoring numbers.
Since turning 38 on December 30th, James is averaging 35.2 points on .521/.340/.794 shooting splits, 9.4 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.6 blocks for Los Angeles.
Neither James nor Durant will be available for tomorrow’s matchup between the Nets and Lakers, unfortunately for fans.