LeBron James is playing in his 21st season in the NBA, and is officially the oldest player in the league at 38-years-old.
That means he should be slowing down, right? And maybe settling into a veteran role on a team, giving them a couple of good minutes here and there while mainly just being a leader in the locker room? Wrong.
LeBron James is still just as much of a force in his 21st season in the NBA as he was when he first entered into the league as the number one overall pick in 2003. He’ll turn 39-years-old in December, and though he should be trying to gracefully age out of the game, he’s instead continuing to dominate it.
Anytime James has been on the floor this season, his team has performed better. I’ll spare you from being bored with all of the “plus/minus” statistics and just say that having an almost 40-year-old LeBron on the floor seems to be very important for the Los Angeles Lakers.
And I know we are living in an age where professional athletes are extending their careers (cough, Tom Brady, cough), but the fact that LeBron James is still such a force in the modern day NBA is unprecedented.
For reference, here is a list of other all-time great professional basketball players and the age at which they retired:
-Kobe Bryant (retired at the age of 37)
-Larry Bird (retired at the age of 35)
-Dwayne Wade (retired at the age of 37)
-Shaquille O’Neale (retired at the age of 39)
There have been examples of NBA players retiring after they’ve turned 40, such as Vince Carter, Tim Duncan, and Michael Jordan, but all of those players were shells of themselves towards the end of their careers.
LeBron is still doing stuff like this:
Year 21 and LeBron's still doing stuff like this. 🤯👑
For reference, Kevin Durant is 6 foot 10 inches tall, so LeBron is jumping pretty damn high in this picture from a tilt with the Phoenix Suns earlier in the season. There are many debates as to who the NBA’s greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.) is, and I’ll admit that there are many great options (MJ, James, Kobe, Russell), but no player has ever had a “prime” that has lasted as long as LeBron.
James is still rocking rims and winning games 21 years into his career, and no one knows how it is possible. There are players in the NBA right now that were born after LeBron started playing in the league, and he’s just as scary to play against now as he was back when he started over two decades ago.
In fact, last night when the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Utah Jazz in the NBA’s new In-Season Tournament (and won in convincing fashion), Lebron found out after the game that he is actually older than the head coach of the Utah Jazz, Will Hardy, who is 35 years old. James is actually older than three NBA coaches in the league right now (Will Hardy- Jazz, Joe Mazzula- Celtics, Mark Daigneault- Thunder).
Lebron found that out last night in the locker room after the game, and he was shocked to say the least:
I’m not here to end the debate and say that LeBron should be considered the best to ever play the game, but I am here to suggest that we should all really appreciate what we are seeing out of the Lakers star this late into his career.
Again, it makes no sense at all that James is still dominating the NBA, and I’d say that this advertisement perfectly sums it up: