When it comes to LeBron James, all conventional wisdom goes out of the window.
The first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, James is now 19 seasons into his illustrious NBA career and entered this season as the league’s fourth-oldest player. Despite the fact that he’ll turn 37 on Dec. 30, LeBron ranked third in SN’s preseason ranking of the league’s best players and first among all small forwards in the league.
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That’s just not normal.
37 is far from old in the real world, but the NBA world is a much different story. In the league’s 75-year history, only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan and Karl Malone averaged 20-plus points per game at 37 or older. LeBron, who’s averaging 24.8 points through six games this season, stands to add his name to that list by the year’s end.
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Scoring is one thing, but where James truly defies logic is with his athleticism, which is still elite despite the fact he’s appeared in nearly 1,600 NBA games (regular season and postseason). Logically speaking, no one with that kind of mileage on their body should be able to complete alley-oop finishes like this:
And this combination of strength and bounce just isn’t fair:
Just six games into his 19th season, LeBron has already done enough to warrant a two-minute reel of his best above-the-rim finishes.
Each time you would think LeBron might take a step back and fall off, he seemingly bounces back even stronger to distort our sense of time and any related notions surrounding a decline in performance and athleticism.
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Call it what you want, but understand we’ve never seen anything like LeBron before, and we’ll probably never see anything like him again. There’s definitely more to come.