At 37 years of age, LeBron James is still at the top of his game. James is averaging 28.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 6.5 APG in what has been a challenging season for his Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have lost three straight games, are one game below .500, and are currently clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
James has shouldered a tremendous load, working to offset the inconsistent play of triple-double machine Russell Westbrook and the absence of superstar teammate Anthony Davis, who is out for about a month with a knee injury. With the Lakers’ season on the spin cycle, everyone is looking to James for leadership and he has not disappointed. King James has aged like fine wine, and his tenacious play ensures that Los Angeles at least has a fighting chance.
The highest scoring average that James has recorded was 31.4 PPG when he played for his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005-06. LeBron shot 48% from the field during that campaign, while averaging seven boards and 6.6 assists per game. Fast forward 16 seasons, and James is flirting with posting new career highs at the ripe old age of 37. James is shooting 52%, including 36.2% from beyond the arc.
When compared to fellow NBA legends Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant in the categories of consistent productivity and longevity, LeBron outshines them both. By age 37, Bryant had announced that he’d be retiring after the 2015-16 season. Kobe closed out his career averaging less than half of the points (17.6) than he had in his career-high season (35.4, also in 2005-06). Bryant is undeniably one of the best players to lace up, yet his final season with the Lakers was a bit of a dud as his minutes dwindled.
Jordan fared a little better than Bryant when he came back from his second retirement to play for the Washington Wizards at age 38. “His Airness” averaged 21.2 PPG over the two seasons he played in Washington before hanging up the Air Jordans for good. Not bad for an aging icon, but MJ’s third-stint scoring average paled in comparison to the career-high average of 37.1 PPG he put up in 1986-87 with the Chicago Bulls.
Yet here is LeBron still playing at an insane level against some kids that are basically half his age. What makes LBJ’s run of basketball greatness that much more impressive, is that he’s been killing it on the court nonstop since middle school. Jordan took more than a four-year hiatus from the NBA before returning for his third and final act with Washington. What LeBron is doing at this stage of his career is nothing short of incredible.
James works hard to maintain an optimum physical condition, and has been fortunate to avoid major injuries during the course of his illustrious 19-year career (knocks on wood). LBJ is dealing with an abdominal injury at the time of this writing, but it’s unlikely to sideline him as he strives to deliver on a promise to L.A.’s fans.
Following an embarrassing 37-point blowout loss to the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 15, James put the word out on Twitter. “Laker Nation I apologize and I promise we’ll be better”, James vowed. The Lakers have a pretty tough schedule on the horizon, so King James may have to dig deeper to follow through on his pledge to the city of Los Angeles and its celebrity-speckled fanbase. Doubters be damned.
The ultimate goal for LeBron is to have an opportunity to play in the NBA with his son Bronny. If James can manage to continue playing at a world-class level and stay on the court for three more seasons, he may get his wish. Bronny is eligible to enter the NBA in 2024. If that takes place, that would give LBJ the chance to play with his son and he’ll also have a shot at potentially breaking Vince Carter’s 22-season longevity record.
Of course, there are no guarantees, but it is possible, and hope is a powerful force. LeBron clearly has the talent, the physical strength, the wherewithal, and the grit to get it done. Who wouldn’t want to see James vs. James, or LeBron serving up a sweet alley-oop to a soaring Bronny? Only time will tell whether these two stars are able to align on the NBA stage. So far though, LeBron James has bucked the advances of Father Time and won his battles with the sands of the hourglass.