LeBron is past his prime. He’s the oldest 31 year-old in NBA history. He’s played in 1,200 games and three Olympics. He’s run through the brutal playoff gauntlet and reached the last 6 NBA Finals. LeBron is like a sports car that’s been owned by a traveling salesman. He’s logged more miles than any other player his age in NBA history.
Today in The Herd, Colin said it’s not a knock on LeBron that he’s past his prime, it’s just the natural progression of the NBA life cycle that all great players go through.
“LeBron’s not a superhero, he’s a human being.”
Michael Jordan only played 1,250 games. Larry Bird played in less than 1,100 games, and was out of the league by 31. Magic Johnson only played in 1,100 games. The old saying is “father time is undefeated”, and LeBron is living seven time zones ahead of every other NBA player ever.
Not only has LeBron played in more games than anyone at his age in NBA history, he’s had to singlehandedly carry three franchises squarely on his back. This added responsibility has further accelerated his physical decline.
“Remember, LeBron has had three needy teams. You ever meet a dad, and he’s 45, but he’s got like 4 boys, and they’re wearing his arse out. And he’s a 45 year-old dad, but he looks 55. Because his boys are needy. And then you meet a dad who’s just got a daughter. And girls mature faster than boys. He’s 45, he looks like he’s 42. LeBron’s had 4 or 5 needy boys if he’s a dad.”
Just because he’s past his physical prime, doesn’t mean a less physically talented LeBron can’t still be an elite NBA superstar. He’ll just have to do it with more help and less reliance on his physical dominance. He possesses the intangible skills and a genius basketball IQ that will allow him to do it. He’ll just need more help.
Muhammad Ali morphed from the dominant physical specimen who’s blinding speed and power defeated Sonny Liston, to the less physically gifted, but more savvy Ali that defeated George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle”.
Colin added that one legitimate criticism of LeBron is that his insistence on being Cleveland’s de facto GM has been an obstacle to his success, not an asset.
“LeBron James said ‘OK, Dan Gilbert, I’ll go back to Cleveland, but here’s what I want. Kyrie Irving, and another veteran star. And he chose Kevin Love. In the process, to get Kevin Love, they gave Minnesota the number one pick, and that would have been Andrew Wiggins.
LeBron didn’t stay in his lane, and LeBron the General Manger is not nearly as good as LeBron the player.”